KUALA LUMPUR | Road traffic accidents are among the leading causes of work-related injuries and deaths in Malaysia.

Road Safety Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said commuting accidents make up a significant percentage of industrial accidents, which are reported annually to the Social Security Organisation (Socso).

Lee pointed out that the traffic accident death rate of six to seven thousand yearly is very high for a small country like Malaysia, and said he hopes that employers and employees would take note of the sobering statistics.

“In particular, employers have a duty to protect their employees and other road users by managing occupational roads to reduce business losses which arise from ‘at work’ road accidents.

“In this connection, employers have a role to play in developing and implementing comprehensive safety procedures and programmes for the workplace to reduce accidents, deaths and injuries, including by training their employees to be competent drivers and riders,” he said in a statement today.

Lee’s suggested measures to be taken by employers include establishing a written policy requiring drivers and motorcyclists to undergo safe driving and riding practices; ensuring proper use of vehicle safety features; and conducting background checks on prospective drivers before they are hired.

“Employers must ensure that drivers and motorcyclists in their employ comply with designated speed limits and do not permit them to drive while tired; ensure and establish written procedures in respect of proper maintenance of all vehicles owned by employers; and ensure workers use appropriate barriers and traffic control efforts while work is being performed on roads.

“Also, conduct defensive driving and riding courses to minimise accidents; do not use mobile phones while driving or riding; and conduct random drug tests on all bus drivers to ensure safety of their passengers,” he said.

Lee said employers have a moral obligation to adopt a proactive approach to manage occupational road risk (ORR).

“They should always review the road safety standards of their organisations. Employers who take action to promote the safety of their staff while driving or riding will achieve major cost savings, improve their image and make a significant contribution to meeting road safety targets,” he added.

Meanwhile, to reduce road accidents and deaths in the country, Lee said the government should rely on education to create a new breed of motorists and motorcyclists who care for themselves and others.

“There should be a syllabus on road safety for schools to inculcate the need to practise good etiquette and behaviour on the road.

“The government needs to also identify all dangerous stretches of federal, state and municipal roads; and take steps to rectify them and make them safe for all road users.”

He added that the government should consider introducing a “Drive Safe and Pay Less” scheme, where drivers who have undergone defensive driving courses should qualify for payment of lower insurance premiums for their vehicles.

Lee said drivers who drive recklessly and cause the deaths of others should receive a mandatory jail sentence.