According to the 2017 Center for Disease Control and Prevention data, road accidents accounted for 45 per cent of deaths among young people.
The finding echoes a report from the World Health Organization in 2018, which stated that road injuries took over as the biggest killer among children and young adults between the ages of five and 29, with the most likely culprit being drivers facing sleep debt and fatigue.
The Sleep Foundation finds that sleep-deprived workers, who clock in six hours of sleep or less, are 33 per cent more likely to get into a road accident, compared to those who get seven to eight hours of snooze.
These findings can be applied to Bruneian drivers, especially those who have to commute long hours between Brunei-Muara and Belait districts. I’ve spoken with quite a number of these commuters and the most common complaint is the experiencing of drowsiness while driving.
While it is not a nationwide survey, it is alarming nonetheless.
Therefore, I believe it is high time to establish rest stops along the 125-kilometre stretch between the two districts.
Even though the issue was brought up during the recently-concluded Legislative Council session, I believe much specificity needs to be shared, such as a timeline of the project and what the infrastructure would look like.
To reference countries such as France and Finland, these rest stops should be set up every 20 kilometres, which would amount to six of them in total. Each rest stop needs to be equipped with a surau, a spacious car park, CCTV cameras, a security post, a gate, toilets and other basic amenities.
According to my rough calculations, BND1.2 million would need to be allocated for the project, at BND200,000 per rest stop. To generate returns from the investment, the authorities could consider teaming up with private companies to provide motel services and shops.
At a time when there is an increase in road fatalities in the country, I implore the authorities to prioritise such a project. I have personally lost a good friend to a highway accident, and I believe should there have been a rest stop available for him to recuperate, he would still be alive now.