KUALA LUMPUR: A plan to involve parents, teachers, the community and the authorities in curbing underage driving is expected to be announced by next month.
The plan, a collaboration between the police, Road Transport Department and other agencies within the Transport Ministry, will focus on the most vulnerable group -- youths between 16 and 25 years old.
These youngsters, said Malaysian Institute of Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Sadullah, needed more attention to curb the growing number of fatalities from accidents.
The idea, he said, would be to use classrooms and community programmes to educate teenagers and keep them from indulging in underage driving.
"We are still finalising this plan. We need to enhance the road safety education lessons being taught in primary schools.
"We have to make sure that it works. We want the community to take action. Changing a behaviour is not easy," he said.
Parents will also be encouraged to keep track of teenagers within the community and their activities.
"We have just discussed this in our laboratory meeting.
"Our next step would be to finalise the plan and engage the relevant stakeholders, including the parents," he said.
Statistics of 2007 showed that youths made up 41 per cent of those killed while driving cars or riding motorcycles without a licence.
He added that of those who were killed, 45 per cent were motorcyclists and 15 per cent were motorists.
"This is one of our biggest concerns. This is the most productive group and they are the future of the nation."
Most of the accidents occurred in rural areas and were caused by head-on collisions or vehicles spinning out of control.
Farhan said previous efforts to reduce fatalities did not work because it was a case of "one-size fits all".
"Sometimes we need to focus more on certain groups instead of having one plan to fit all the age groups and needs.
"The needs of each group are different," he said.
Federal traffic police chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Yusof said the police's role was to enforce the law.
He said traffic police would take action against underage drivers before they were allowed to go home. They were set free after the drivers were given counselling.
"We always tell parents to keep an eye on their children's activities and advise them not to let their children have access to vehicle keys."
Aziz said police also conducted seminars in schools on safe driving.
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