People need to accept that safety begins with them
AS the break with the longstanding title of Op Sikap and the zooming of the focus of the newly named Op Selamat on empty homes as well as congested roads underscore, the police have shifted their operations up a gear for Hari Raya Aidilfitri. To be fair, since its introduction in 2001, Op Sikap has not been an unmitigated failure. Arguably, the number of accidents would have been worse without the slew of measures during the campaign periods.
But, to be honest, it has been very much a qualified success. Last year, 289 people were killed on the roads during the Raya season, the highest since the operation conducted specifically during festive seasons was launched more than a decade ago. Certainly, after 25 consecutive editions, the road safety campaign could do with a fresh look. Undoubtedly, the accent on safety in its name is spot-on, as is the attention given to the security of the houses left unattended when their occupants go back to their hometowns, as there is a surge of break-ins when there is an exodus from the cities. It's almost as heartbreaking to come home and find one's prized possessions stolen as it is to lose a loved one in a fatal crash during the festive holidays.
To be sure, there is a lot of room for improvement in the official efforts to reduce accidents and to protect homes from burglaries and robberies when the residents are away. But as much as the police should take measures such as increasing highway patrols to make sure drivers obey road rules and step up street patrols to stem crime that typically takes place during the holidays, people need to accept that safety starts with them. At a Safe House campaign in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said that the days of only the police being responsible for fighting crime are over. This is also true for preventing accidents. Everyone has to play a part and get involved.
Signing up for Rukun Tetangga or joining a community policing group is the kind of teamwork that is needed to keep an eye on the neighbourhood as the police can't patrol every street all the time. And so is reporting suspicious activity. It's certainly not a bad idea for those going home this Raya to register with the police as the patrol cars would then know which houses to check. As their lives and the lives of others are in their hands, drivers should take responsibility for safety on the road and drive with the right attitude.