Many people are outraged whenever there are reports of deaths caused by drink-driving and they call for heavier penalties on those driving under the influence of alcohol, forgetting larger numbers are intoxicated by drugs, especially motorcyclists.
Insurance companies repudiate cover when vehicles were driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If proven, offenders could be sentenced to a longer jail term or heavier fine, and closure for victims or their families when justice is served.
If the offender has the means to pay compensation, it would be worthwhile to file a civil suit to claim for sufferings and loss of income for the victim or family. But many drivers do not and by the time compensation is awarded by the court several year later, much money and assets would have been disposed by then.
It would be better to impose a fine of RM100,000 for causing death, with RM80,000 given to the families of victims without denying them their rights to claim for more if the victim was or will be a high-income earner.
It is easy to react with anger by calling for punitive measures, but it takes compassion to think of lessening the sufferings of the victims and their families, not just for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but for all motor accidents.
However, drink-driving is now the battle cry for many politicians crawling out of the woodwork while the Transport Ministry is finalising amendments to the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333) by mid-June for the Cabinet’s consideration before tabling in the next Parliament sitting.
The number of deaths caused by drink-driving were 58 in 2017, 54 in 2018, 23 in 2019 and eight for the first five months of this year. All these figures are less than one percent of total deaths on our roads. A whopping 64 percent were suffered by motorcyclists, but life is cheap for them as long as the authorities and lawmakers turn a blind eye.
As it does not require hard work, it is much easier to call for a total ban of alcohol without taking into account that dadah is illegal but there are still a sizeable drug addicts and traffickers in the country, apart from contraband cigarettes.
Easy access to narcotics and contraband goods, high casualties on our roads and victims or their families left to fend for themselves are more important issues than stiff penalties to deter drink driving, but pseudo-champions lacking compassion remain largely quiet.
The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own/strictly those of The True Net reader YS Chan of Petaling Jaya.