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Argumentative Essay - discuss the new rear seat belt law intoduced in Malaysia

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        5/5/11                             Why not enforcing seat belts

        As an address to this occurring problem, the government of Malaysia has taken massive action by making it compulsory for rear passengers to buckle up as of January 1st 2009. According to the Road Safety Depart¬ment director-general Datuk Surat Singh, those not wearing rear seat belts can be given maximum compound notices for RM300 now. However, this is not the end to it. Those who are still unable to adapt to this new ruling could fined up to RM2000 from July 1 2009, or jailed for a maximum of one year, or both, under the Road Transport Act.
        In every law, there is always an exception. Same goes for this new safety belt ruling. Vehicles which are exempted from the ruling are those registered before Jan 1, 1995; vehicles which do not have anchorage points for rear seat belt fitting; and commercial vehicles such as buses, taxis and rented vehicles. Currently there are only about 10 percent of the vehicles which are not fitted with rear seat belts. Those vehicles which are registered before Jan 1, 1995 are given a 3 years grace to have the rear seat belts fitted. But, it is not mandatory for these vehicles to retrofit this safety features as they are not fitted with rear anchorage points to install the seat belts.
        Other than those vehicles mentioned above, there is one more type of vehicles which are exempted from this ruling. According to the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat, the rear seat belt ruling will not be enforced on foreign-registered vehicles. The vehicles which he refers to are those vehicles from Thailand, Singapore and Brunei on Malaysian roads. However, he urged foreigners driving vehicles that have rear seat belts to use them when driving in the country as this safety feature could help to protect them in case of emergency.

        As to why am I so attracted to this current issue? Well, it’s because this new ruling places a huge effect on me as a driver. Now, whenever I drive my little siblings around, I have to remind them to buckle up. In which it usually ends up in an argument as those little ones fail to understand the purpose of this law. Hence, I thought it would be good to balance the pros and cons in the rear seat belt ruling in order to let myself learn more about it.
        This particular news had alarmed many of us as after all, it is going to affect our daily habits having to adapt to this new law. Many people have responded to this current issue. For every new ruling launched, there will always be people who oppose and also people who acquiesced. Mr Kee Yin Chong, a 40 year old business man, disagreed the rear seat belt ruling. To him, the rear seat belt ruling is a burden to those poor families that have more than 3 kids and cannot afford to buy a bigger car. It is quite impossible for all of them to buckle up. In addition, the fine is really too high and this ruling will allow more greedy police officers to “steal off” the citizens, hence increasing the bribe rate. However, a lady who wished to remain unidentified agreed with the new law.   She believed that the rear seat belt ruling will reduce the rate of death or severe injuries in car accidents. This ruling will help save a lot of precious lives.
        Personally, I do agree with this new rear seat belt ruling. This law would indeed benefit the public and reduce the death rates due to car accidents. As to Mr Kee’s comment, I too agree that it will be difficult for those families to obey this law. In this case, the government should have started off with disallowing overloading first. They should come up with an idea to help these poor families afford a bigger car in which all passengers will be able to buckle up before expecting them to follow the rear seat belt ruling. The government should help support these poor families by allowing them to exchange their smaller cars with bigger cars with just a small amount of money as top up and subsidies them by giving them some amount of petrol coupon per month. Of course this will need a large lump of money. As another effort, the government can encourage the local car manufacturers such as Proton to come up with larger cars to accommodate more passengers.
        As we all know, rear seat belt ruling had been launched in other modern countries such as America and Australia since 1970.   A few researches had been carried out to study how this ruling can play their role in safety aspect. According to 2001 analysis of US crash data, seatbelts were claimed to have decreased fatalities by 1.35% for each 10% increase in seatbelt use. Therefore, based on the researches that had been carried out, we can see that buckling up the seat belt can prevent death or severe injuries during car accidents. Thus, I strongly recommend all back passengers to follow the rules for their own safety and not just to avoid the fine.
        The government had given three-month grace period for enforcement officers let off offenders with just a warning and not issuing summons. In this case, I think that government did a good job. This is because everyone needs time to adapt to this new ruling. It is not easy to change a habit. Anyhow, I think that government should extend the grace period. When the public start to understand the new law and the effort the government put in, they will try to tolerate and willingly buckle up the seat belt for their own safety. Forcing can no longer solve problems. Is the government so free to check whether the back passengers buckle up their seat belts every day? Of course not! The government still have to work harder to make our country as modern as other countries such as United Kingdom. In this case I would like to emphasize that the government should educate the public creating awareness on the importance on buckling up even in the rear seat. It is completely pointless if the public would just buckle up to prevent themselves from getting fined.
        Besides that, I think the fine is really too high for those poor families. Most of the poor families’ income is below RM1500. How can they afford to pay the fine up to RM2000? They may not be trying to oppose the government but merely forgot to ask their children to buckle up. Such a heavy fine will make it more difficult for them to make ends meet.
        In addition, the government should put more effort in solving the bribe problems that had been occurring since many years ago. Most of the people were starting to question the efficiency and the responsibility of the police. They had lost trust to the police. To them, the rear seat belt ruling is just one of the excuses for those greedy police to “steal off” from the public. Thus, to make this ruling into success, the government should ensure the police will play their role efficiently and not worsen the bribe problems. On top of that, every one of us includes the police or even the Prime Minister should not exempt from this new law. We have to hold to the principle that everyone is equal in the view of law. By this way, only the police will gain trust from the public and the public will work together with the government by buckle up their seat belt for safety.
        Although by buckling up the seat belt can reduce the rate of death and severe injuries during car accidents but most importantly the government should try to minimise the frequency of car accidents. Government should emphasise on defensive driving and safe driving. The government should lengthen the learning hours before one can obtain their driving license. Currently, one only needs to take 16 hours of driving lessons before they can take their driving test. Honestly, is 16 hours enough to ensure the public really learns how to drive? In Australia, new drivers need to take up 200 hours of driving lessons before they can sit for their driving test. This way, safety driving can be instilled in the new drivers. Also, the government should make it a rule for drivers to take a brief driving test again every time they renew their driving license. Drivers who fail to pass the test again should sit for a few lessons again before being allowed to take the test again. The lessons and test should be strongly based on instilling safe and defensive driving among the public.
        I would just like to conclude that the seat belt ruling should be carried out as it is beneficial. However, the government should look more into the concerns of the public and solve them before implementing such a heavy find on the offenders of the new law. For example, as an address to the overloading problem faced by most families with more than 3 kids, the government can help by giving them petrol vouchers. This will reduce the burden on them as owning a bigger car causes higher petrol consumption. In addition to that, the government should urge the public to use the public transportations. On the other hand, the government should also upgrade the quality of the public transports and allowing the public to be more comfortable with it. The government ought to increase the LRT destination as it would be more convenient. This will make the public more willing to use public transportations as it saves cost and would not face the overloading problems.

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