Barriers on a Malaysian highway.

THE Dewan Rakyat was told on Wednesday the installation of safety rolling barriers in Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang had reduced number of road accidents in the area by 94 per cent within six months.

According to Deputy Works Minister Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin, as reported by Bernama, the new barriers had features such as clearer light reflectors as well as the ability to absorb shock energy and reduce the impact of a collision on the driver and vehicle.

The installation of the barriers had been completed in December last year, and now the ministry is planning to extend its use from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) roundabout to the KLIA highway at Sepang later this month.

However, there is a drawback to installing the barriers as their cost, at RM1,500 per metre, is six times more expensive than normal barriers (RM250/metre).

As such, the ministry is doing a cost benefit analysis on the types of barriers and their effectiveness.

It is unclear whether the minister was misquoted, but if the barriers can actually reduce accidents by 94 per cent, then its installation in accident-prone areas should seriously be considered at it may help bring down our worrying road accident statistics.

However, the government may also want to consider studying the common steel W-beam guardrail that is used on public roads and highways in Malaysia and its danger to motorcyclists.

There have been a few reported cases of riders who were decapitated after running into them.

One was reported in Jalan Persisiran Pantai Nusajaya only a few years back.

Another horrific incident occurred in 2015, when a woman pillion rider was decapitated after she reportedly fell on the railing after the motorcycle crashed. Her husband lost his left arm in the incident.

A study conducted by a local university in 2007 found the W-beam barriers to be dangerous.

Although the study was confined to exclusive motorcycle lanes, the barriers may be similar to those found on many of our highways. A simulation done in the study identified them as a danger to motorcyclists.

“It has been presented in this paper that a W-beam guardrail existing along exclusive motorcycle lanes is dangerous to motorcyclists as it causes the rider to slide and tumble along the top of guardrail before landing on the ground head first. This impact almost always results in fatalities or catastrophic injuries. The reason for these hazards has been attributed to include non consideration of motorcyclists in the design of this guardrail,” noted the study .

Given that motorcycle accidents account for most of the injuries and deaths in the country, perhaps it is time the government conducts a new study to find an improved railing that is safer to motorcyclists as well as cars.

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