KUALA LUMPUR: Speed limits on highways and roads in the country may be based on driving habits soon.
This is pending a study being conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) and Works Ministry, based on a Swedish model which charts the average speed of 85 per cent of motorists in an area.
It also looks at risk factors and road conditions.
Miros director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah said up to this point, speed limits were set based on a hierarchy, meaning highways had higher speed limits while urban roads had lower ones.
"But now, if the risk factor is high, speed will be lowered. If the roads are broad and do not pose risks, we might want to increase the speed. But a proper review needs to be done," he said.
For years, the Works and Transport Ministries had put up speed limit signboards based on the hierarchy of roads and population density of the area.
For highways, it was fixed at 90kph to 110kph while old roads which linked cities had between 70kph and 90kph. As for rural roads, the speed limit is 70kph while for residential roads it is 40kph.
Farhan said some of the roads which were once considered high risk may also be a lot safer now after undergoing upgrading works and might see a higher speed limit.
But, he said, Malaysian drivers should also buck up on their driving habits, especially during rainy days or if the car is packed with passengers.
"They must understand the speed limit they see on a signboard is the safest for the stretch (during good weather). They should drive at lower speeds during rainy days or if they have passengers seated at the back."
Malaysia loses some 6,700 lives a year due to fatalities, with 60 per cent of the deaths involving motorcyclists. Most of the fatalities are due to reckless driving and not strapping on helmets.
Meanwhile, transport industry players welcomed the new Road Transport Bill but they said it would only work if the driving curriculum was updated to suit present needs and proper enforcement was carried out to nab offenders.
Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Dr Mohd Ashfar Ali said laws were not sufficient at this point.
"Making sure that these laws are followed by motorists is more important," he said.
Under the new bill, road transport officers will be allowed to conduct urine tests on drivers. Ashfar said the authorities should allow bus companies to do these tests on their staff.
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