Human factor in motorcyclist road fatalities

Malaysian motorcyclist fatalities may overtake Thailand according to a news report. As such, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) asks why, despite all the research and efforts in curbing accident rates, motorcycle fatality rate kept rising. In 2013, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) highlighted that Malaysia has the fifth highest accident fatalities involving motorcycles in the world.

Based on a decade of accident statistics, the percentage of motorcycle fatalities had never dipped below 58 per cent of all road fatalities despite the studies and effort put in to lower the statistics. In 2020, it reached an astounding 67.29 per cent.

The number of registered motorcycle ownership is almost half the total of all registered vehicles and this increases the chance of an accident as there is a competition to the use of the road.

In a 2016 study conducted by MIROS, it showed that those aged between 16 and 25 years-old motorcyclists had the highest number of fatalities, serious injuries, and minor injuries. These are the reported cases, the actual number of accidents may never be known as many minor ones were not reported.

In a MIROS study on 921 students from 32 secondary schools, researchers found 62.4 per cent of the students rode on a motorcycle without a license. As many as 89.8 percent of them admitted that they had learned to ride on a motorcycle without a license as young as 12 years-old. Out of the 575 students who rode a motorcycle without a license, 88.2 percent of them had not never been summoned before. The survey also showed that 62.6 per cent of the students’ parents did not stop or forbid their children from riding a motorcycle without a license.

The government should consider only allowing school-going motorcyclists to ride on mopeds which are small motorcycles that can only go between 42 to 45 km per hour. Restricting youths to mopeds would keep them from the enticement to speed because speed thrills but kills.

The other outcome of the study showed that the students’ parents adopted a lackadaisical (tidak apa) attitude towards their children’s safety and welfare. Law enforcers are also abetting the violation of the law by not performing their duty diligently. If the law is not enforced, then it serves no purpose to impose a minimum age for riding a motorcycle.

MIROS also noted that most of the motorcyclists turned out to major roads from intersections less than 4 seconds from the oncoming vehicles, resulting in serious accidents and that they are poor in using their turning signal to alert other motorists of their intention to turn. These motorcycle accident victims have been identified as teenagers.

While potholes, poor road design, and bad road condition are to be blamed, the human factor cannot be easily eliminated and this has to be addressed by strict enforcement of the law.

The study found that most of the accidents involving motorcycles were the result of careless riding, speeding, traffic light violations and dangerous turning. We like to ask the authorities how many motorcycle licenses have been suspended since the implementation of the demerit points system for traffic offences (KEJARA) in 2017.

We urge the government to heavily penalise motorists who flout traffic regulations. People tend to break the law when they know that either they can likely get away with their act or that they pay with a light penalty.

It was discovered that there was a downward trend of people violating red light during the first year of installation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) to catch red light offenders. However, the numbers of offenders went up in the subsequent years.

It has become a mockery of the law when the government makes seasonal offers of hefty discounts when a person pays his traffic fines. Why can’t the government blacklist defaulters and prevent them from their renewing license or road tax if a person had outstanding fines?

Press Statement,  18 October 2021

Road fatalities statistics

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Motorcycle fatal accidents 4,036 4,169 4,178 4,294 4,179 4,203
Total m/c accidents 120,156
Total accident deaths 6,872 6,877 6,917 6,915 6,674 6,706
% of m/c to total accident fatalities 58.73 60.62 60.40 62.10 62.62 62.68
No. of m/c[1] 9,441,910 9,985,310, 10,589,820 11,087,880 11,629,260 12,094,790
No. of reg vehicles 20,188,565 21,401,269 22,702,221 23,819,256 25,101,192 26,301,952
m/c:total veh. 46.77% 46.66% 46.65% 46.55% 46.33% 45.98%
Population 28,910,000 29,000,000 29,300,000 29,947,600 30,300,000 31,190,000



2016[2] 2017 2018 2019 2020[3]
Motorcycle fatal accidents 4,485 4,347 4,129 3,959 3,118
Total accident deaths 7,152 6,740 6,284 6,167 4,634
%ofm/c to total accident fatalities 62.71 64.5 65.7 64.20 67.29
No. of m/c 12,677,220 13,173,070 13,725,950 14,322,230
No. of reg vehicles 27,613,120[4] 28,738,180[5] 29,956,470 31,200,000[6]
m/c:totalveh. 45.91% 45.84% 45.82% 45.90%
Population 31,660,000 32,022,600[7] 32,382,300 32,523,000 32,657,300


[1]AseanStatsDataPortal. Total number of registered motorcycles (in thousand).

[2] MIROS.

[3] NST (24 June 2021). Malaysia records over 4.94 million accidents in last decade.

[4]Vehicle Safety Regulations & Ratings.

[5]AseanStatsDataPortal. Total number of registered road motor vehicles (in thousand).

[6] Vehicles registrations in Malaysia – 31.2 mil as of 2019.

[7] DOSM.