Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Half-Baked Cake of AES

Sometime back, I figured that I would say "I told you so" over the AES (Automated Enforcement System) issue that most Barisan Nasional MPs would certainly scream about then making a U-turn later on. When it was mooted in about 1-2 years ago many of them, without thinking deep further except from the nutshell  / surface would scream yes and gave the one common answer of why the need of having AES. And then when the negative buzz over the system goes over and over the top, those politicians, whose mouth is faster than the brain would then say - stop the press / hold the implementation. When Khairy Jamaluddin and Bung Mokhtar started coming out - from their own turf to say that AES should be put on hold, I knew that these bunch of people have already eaten a half-baked cake and made a bad mistake.

Many have said that the system was too rushed, and there's a perception of how hidden costs or the timetable of implementation as well as how the government brushes (bulldozes) through the system without a thorough check and stakeholder consultation has given to the fact that not many people are well receptive to the system. I am actually fine to the system, particularly for the red light camera part but the major parts of the system that I am not very well receptive of and this brought a interesting thought - something that it was well ignored around 2002.

Unrealistic Speed Limits

Recently, the KASE (Kempen Saman Anti-Ekor) highlighted a case where a speed camera is placed on a road with the limit of 30 km/h. Many believed that having an absurd and illogical limit there is what will irked a lot of road users. The present road limits on the road is more or less outdated. Contrary to what many people generally think about speed limits, this short FAQ seems to speak otherwise than what MIROS said. For example:

"Inappropriately established speed limits cause drivers to take all traffic signals less seriously. The brochure also points out that unrealistic speed limits create two groups of drivers. Those that try to obey the limit and those that drive at a speed they feel is safe and reasonable. This causes dangerous differences in speed. "

The subsequent questions actually depict the scenario and on the road emotions of many road users:
(note: taken from National Motorist Association, U.S.A)

Q. Isn't slower always safer?
A. No, federal and state studies have consistently shown that the drivers most likely to get into accidents in traffic are those traveling significantly below the average speed. According to research, those driving 10 mph slower than the prevailing speed are more likely to be involved in an accident. That means that if the average speed on an interstate is 70 mph, the person traveling at 60 mph is more likely to be involved in an accident than someone going 70 or even 80 mph.

Q. Wouldn't everyone drive faster if the speed limit was raised?
A. No, the majority of drivers will not go faster than what they feel is comfortable and safe regardless of the speed limit. For example, an 18-month study following an increase in the speed limit along the New York Thruway from 55 to 65 mph, determined that the average speed of traffic, 68 mph, remained the same. Even a national study conducted by Federal Highway Administration also concluded that raising or lowering the speed limit had practically no effect on actual travel speeds.

Q. Don't higher speed limits cause more accidents and traffic fatalities?
A. No, if a speed limit is raised to actually reflect real travel speeds, the new higher limit will make the roads safer. When the majority of traffic is traveling at the same speed, traffic flow improves, and there are fewer accidents. Speed alone is rarely the cause of accidents. Differences in speed are the main problem. Reasonable speed limits help traffic to flow at a safer, more uniform pace.

Q. Aren't most traffic accidents caused by speeding?
A. No, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) claims that 30 percent of all fatal accidents are "speed related," but even this is misleading. This means that in less than a third of the cases, one of the drivers involved in the accident was "assumed" to be exceeding the posted limit. It does not mean that speeding caused the accident. Research conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation showed that the percentage of accidents actually caused by speeding is very low, 2.2 percent.

Q. Aren't our roads more dangerous than ever before?
A. No, our nation's fatality rate (deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) is the lowest it has ever been. The total number of fatalities has also stayed relatively stable for several years. They do occasionally increase, but given that our population and the distance the average person drives are also increasing, this is not surprising, nor is it cause for alarm.

Q. If nobody follows the speed limit, why does it matter that they are underposted?
A. According to a speed-limit brochure published in conjunction with the Michigan State Patrol, inappropriately established speed limits cause drivers to take all traffic signals less seriously. The brochure also points out that unrealistic speed limits create two groups of drivers. Those that try to obey the limit and those that drive at a speed they feel is safe and reasonable. This causes dangerous differences in speed.

In actual truth, because of the improved car technology over the last 25 years, the car performance of newer vehicles are far better and has better safety standards than the models made prior to that period. This doesn't match with the present speed limits on most roads which are still using the outdated vehicle count percentile data as in the early 90s. Highways for example in France is now allowed up to 130 km/h while in Germany, each lane is designated a minimum limit that has to be followed in each lane, so as to give those who in fast the priority.

Use of the 85th percentile speed concept is based on the fact that:
  • the large majority of drivers:
    • are reasonable and prudent
    • do not want to have a crash
    • desire to reach their destination in the shortest possible time
  • a speed at or below which 85 percent of people drive at any given location under good weather and visibility conditions may be considered as the maximum safe speed for that location. 
Sometime in 2002, the timing of raising speed limits was ignored, and even until today with the calculation not up to date. In fact most ministers are wrong in determining it because the driving is not experienced first hand by themselves but instead their chauffeurs do the driving instead. The perception of being a passenger vs being a driver behind the wheel differs much. For example, the passenger may say that the driver is veering too much on the left, even touching the boundary line of the emergency lane whereas in contrary the driver says otherwise.

A gist in that measurement is that it has be done on a very frequent basis.

I came across a document on the 85th percentile measurement. However, I am unsure if MIROS would bother looking at this as to match the claim or so. 

The other part is about how the system would affect the existing equipment being used. As examples, there's still the existing red light camera that uses film to capture images and the mobile speed detection devise that is being used by traffic police (not JPJ) people that it creates confusion over who is actually doing the system or shall we say that the usage is being overlapped by the two parties. 

However, the attitude of those politicians whose haste to have things bulldozed for nothing should be blasted on stage.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Rest Assured Hudud Won't Happen, Mathematically

It's already three weeks that I have not written anything in here. I have been in a roller coaster state (emotionally up and down) that I didn't have the feeling to write the things in mind. In fact this has been one of those things that I've tried to say. Given of the MCA chest-thumping antics yesterday, I am certain that I am not afraid and certain that hudud implementation won't be happening in decades to come or not at all. It's just the same thing as UMNO would tell the Malays as this as the boogeymen to the Chinese.

Apart from that issue above that the MCA (Porn Star and co) keeps screaming about, they don't really talk substance such as governance. All the time they talked about defending the Chinese - but against who really? Communism is no longer in Malaysia for many decades. World War II was over for close to 70 years - so absolutely nothing but to scare people out of the blue. So I heard that when MCA decides to follow suit as UMNO of sacking alleged party saboteurs in the general election, it gives the same body language as with UMNO: they are not confident of their own party members.

The porn star by the name of Chua Soi Lek and his entourage of stooges remains ridiculed, while they keep flogging the dead horse because even if they talk about the dangers or so, they are actually and will still remain stooges of the big brother lynchpin of UMNO. Given of the Chua's relationship with Muhyiddin being boss-bagmen since the latter's days as Johor MB, it is no doubt that this eventually be what will it be even if the Chinese were swayed by tempting words to support them.

But that thing above is not important and I just want to get straight to the point that nobody has to be afraid of their boogeyman talk of hudud thing. 

By virtue, any amendment to the Federal Constitution requires 148 parliamentarians (out of 222) to say yes to a motion of amendment. However, for cases involving religion and royalty matters specified in the constitution, the number of yes hands is not 148 - but 168! 

In other words for special matters, 75% majority is required in the house. But this is only the first hurdle in amendment. Based on probability, it is not likely to happen. Even if PAS and UMNO MPs were to jointly agree to that, the number of Malay MPs from across the board can hardly touch 148 of them if they are to change Common Law to Islamic Shariah law. If you are to do a national level referendum, many people including Malay folk themselves do not seem agreeable to using Shariah law in entire national scale. 

Suppose if the motion overcomes the first hurdle, the second hurdle requires that the motion must be eventually agreed by the council of rulers.  (Majlis Raja-Raja Melayu). From the way it goes, they too are unlikely to agree to the idea taken into consideration that there are 11.5 million non-Muslim Malaysians young to old age that are living in this country.

Some of us brought up this matter in a casual manner with other MCA members (sans top brass) that if a person is well familiar with the Federal constitution, the dream of implementing hudud in the nationwide scale is mathematically impossible. By action it is quite tough to do whereas claiming by mouth seems to say otherwise. 

So therefore, people simply don't need to worry of having that for this might not happen maybe in the next 3-4 decades to come. In other words, MCA simply talks trash on the hudud, just like telling ghost stories to people who are naive.


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