A prevailing sense of lawlessness

Blatantly disregarding No Parking sign
HAVE you seen cars that don't belong to the disabled but are parked in lots assigned for the disabled?
I can almost hear you say out loud "Yes" because you know the disabled have a sticker with the wheelchair symbol on their cars. The disabled lots are always clearly marked with the International Symbol of Access or International Wheelchair Symbol so able-bodied drivers have no excuse to plead ignorance.

Disabled lots are located closer to the entrance and designed a little wider with better access for wheelchair users and those with other disability issues. This is because they need more space to move themselves from the car and onto the wheelchair.

Some hypermarkets also allocate lots for parents with baby carriages and older customers but very often, the rightful users do not have the opportunity to park there because of lazy and inconsiderate drivers, who have already occupied those lots. I recently watched an able-bodied driver coolly retrieve his car from the disabled lot and worse still, he seemed oblivious as to why I was shaking my head at him with disapproval!

A friend told me that inconsiderate parking was probably his dad's pet peeve because he would easily spot careless parking around the city.  This made me more aware of the various kinds of thoughtless habits among road users. In the past month, I regretfully discovered many of their disappointing traits.

Inconsiderate parking across two lots!
Every two weeks, I visit the city library to borrow and return books. The small parking area in front has limited lots and to maximise use, drivers should park properly.  One day I saw a car parked across two lots -- a totally selfish behaviour -- because it deprived another car from using the adjacent lot.  Parking is free at the library but I still thought this driver should be penalised for being so thoughtless.

In fact, some airlines require plussized passengers who occupy more than one seat to buy a ticket for an additional seat or buy an upgrade to a cabin with larger seats.

Airlines are so strict about this that those who don't upgrade or purchase a second seat may be denied boarding the plane. Likewise, drivers as such should be fined, blacklisted and refused entry unless they park properly at the specific lot.

Talking about penalties, the fine for parking in undesignated areas in some shopping areas seems to be no deterrent to drivers who own posh cars because I spotted a Mercedes Benz positioned right next to a No Parking sign.

The fine was RM50, probably only a drop in the ocean for the car owner. Due to this blatant disregard of a clear warning, maybe it's time this shopping centre increased the fine.

Parking in yellow box next to a fire hydrant
Last week, I was at Sultanah Aminah Hospital to visit my aunt who underwent a cataract operation. If you've ever been to this hospital, you know how the car park is always congested with many cars parked in undesignated areas. 
After going around in search of a parking lot, I finally found a spot next to a yellow box and fire hydrant. When I went to retrieve my car, I was annoyed to find a red car parked in the yellow box.

Does the driver not know that this space should be kept vacant at all times in case of a fire emergency? I shudder to think of the chaos that will ensue should a fire break out and the fire engine does not have easy access to the fire hydrant.

Similar yellow boxes are painted on exits from emergency vehicle depots, but I often see drivers queuing at these boxes.  When road junctions and intersections are painted with a criss-cross grid of diagonal yellow lines, vehicles may not enter that marked area and must wait for a gap in the traffic flow before moving.  From the way many disregard the the yellow box and are indifferent to causing a gridlock, I assume they must be either colour blind or simply stubborn.  If an ambulance or fire engine was prevented from passing through because of that gridlock, lives and property may be lost and for the victims, a trail of suffering would ensue.

If I hear an approaching siren while driving, I would check where it was coming from and respond immediately by giving way, but many drivers are simply deaf to the screaming siren. Every minute counts for the patient being rushed to the hospital and that property which is on fire, so why don't these drivers feel any urgency to give way?

It's not only the bad attitude, but it seems that all knowledge of the Highway Code is forgotten after drivers pass their driving test. Will people be more civic conscious only when they have a wheelchair-bound family member or a close one whose life is at risk or when their own property is threatened by fire?

Or maybe when there is stricter enforcement of laws.
This article was first published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 12 August 2010

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