Paper Edition | Page: 8
On Thursday, Professor Tjakra Mauaba (Bali Daily, Aug. 31) highlighted the very serious issue of reckless and unlicensed motorcycle driving that is plaguing Bali (and of course other parts of Indonesia as well).
Of course, for every youngster getting their first motorbike and “hitting the road”, this is an exciting and liberating thing. Insurance companies in developed companies rightly charge higher premiums to young drivers (usually under 25) because, as statistics show, those are the people who drive with the least amount of care, and hence become involved in a majority of accidents. There is nothing unfair or illogical about this.
Ten months ago, my Balinese mother-in-law, who is 60, frail and diabetic, was thrown off the back of a motorbike when another unlicensed driver tried to cut into traffic, against the rules, and against proper judgment. It was her first time on a motorbike in many years, and I think she had no idea of how chaotic and dangerous Bali’s main roads had become.
The woman who caused the accident was briefly detained by police, and her motorbike was impounded. She was jobless, and she subsequently made no effort to keep in contact with our family, a fact which really annoyed my wife.
My mother-in-law may have been sitting improperly on the back of the motorbike — with both legs together swung over the side (the norm for female passengers here) — and, possibly, her driver may be partially liable as well due to his own carelessness; but we’ll never know for sure. At any rate, the police were flagged down, and my mother-in-law was rushed to a local hospital.
She suffered a broken leg, as well as serious scrapes and bruises to her face. She remained in the hospital for approximately two weeks, a period which was apparently determined collectively, with the doctor’s advice carrying a lot of weight. I personally believe she could have been discharged earlier, but that’s only my opinion. We paid for her treatment and stay at the hospital with cash.
Because of her diabetes, my mother-in-law has never been able to get proper health insurance coverage, a fact which ended up costing my wife, her sister and brother and I approximately Rp 30 million (US$3,146). She left the hospital without having her broken leg operated on, as the doctor thought it to be too risky at the time.
Six months later, she was readmitted to a different, cheaper hospital to have her leg operated on. She remained there for about five days, and the bill came to approximately another Rp 30 million — a significant amount of money for us.
Gathering this amount of money for a second time proved to be a difficult and emotional affair, as other family members were in the midst of their own financial stresses. Aside from triggering a lot of emotional feelings and bickering within the family, my wife, who has a full-time job, has had to spend nine months waking up at 5 a.m. every day and driving to her bedridden mother to care for her. As the only daughter, my wife was “nominated” by her brother and father to carry out the nursing chores and rehabilitation therapy.
The whole episode has been very expensive, and at times exposed some raw emotions within the family.
The accident’s primary cause was an unlicensed motorcycle driver making an illegal, improper foray into fast-moving traffic. The secondary cause was, I believe, some inattentiveness on the part of my wife’s cousin, who was driving my mother-in-law at the time.
Another contributing factor to the accident was the sheer chaotic movement of traffic on Bali’s major roads, which are ludicrously overcrowded and suffer from a complete lack of traffic policing (an effective deterrent).
Traffic accidents have far-ranging economic and psychological effects for the victims and their families alike. Schools should be conducting in-depth seminars to young students on the dangers of reckless driving.