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Motorcyclist death rate is worst in ASEAN countries and it's getting worse

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Motorcyclist death rate is worst in ASEAN countries and it's getting worse

The World Health Organisation has updated their "global guidelines to curb motorcycle crash deaths" - basically a manual that outlines statistics and actions steps. It also underlines what we can already assume. Concerningly, the fatalities are rising.

This updated manual was launched in conjuction with the global regional road safety dialogue on motorcycle safety, which is being held in Manila, the Philippines. 

WHO - Guidelines On Motorcycle Safety

In Southeast Asia specifically, the tally has reached a point where it's found that 43% of all road traffic deaths involve some form of 'powered two-or-three-wheel' vehicle, and thisincludes everything from the usual motorcycles and scooters to e-scooters and auto-rickshaws (a.k.a Tuk Tuks). Collectively, they're referred to as PTWs.

The data from Southeast Asian and African countries are perhaps the most chilling, having the highest rate of road deaths per 100,000 population. Between 2013 and 2016, an increase of 23% to 28% was seen across all regions being measured: Africa, Americas, Southeast Asia, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific. 

Cambodia - Motorcycles & Tuk Tuks

Unsurprisingly, this is most prevalent in developing countries where motorcycles ownership far outnumbers that of cars. Conversely, the death rate is relatively low in high income countries such as South Korea and Japan. 

For Thailand and Cambodia, PTWs were involved in, respectively, 73% and 74% of each country's total road deaths in 2016, according to information compiled by the WHO.

Cambodia - Motorcyclist At Market

“Nearly 30% of all road deaths in Southeast Asia involve powered two- and three-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and electrical bikes (e-bikes), and the numbers are rising,” said WHO head of safety and mobility Nhan Tran.

“Motorcycles dominate the roads in many low- and middle-income countries, where nine in ten road traffic deaths happen. It is vital that all relevant authorities put the laws, frameworks and actions in place to reduce deaths and injuries involving powered two- and three-wheelers, and ensure motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users are not left dangerously exposed," he added.

Child riding motorcycle

Key factors that plays into the high fatality rate often include a failure to follow basic safety practices such as wearing helmets, excessive speeding, and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances. 

However, other causes include roadside hazards, rampant traffic congestion, and poor road surface conditions, but another shocking finding is that young adults aged 15–34 years account for over 60% of all powered two- and three-wheeler related deaths in low- and middle-income countries. 

Karak Highway - Malaysia - Dangerous Riding

For Malaysia in this past August alone, Free Malaysia Today reports that motorcyclists are involved in 70 out of every 100 road deaths in the country. The total count of motorcyclist deaths between 2001 and 2021 stands at a frightening 89,953. 

After some high profile incidences of illegal street racing involving motorcyclists, a convoy of hundreds obstructing traffic, and even the rise of kicking off wing mirrors off of cars, we clearly have a long way to go when it comes to road safety of the 2-wheeled kind. 

Jim Kem

Jim Kem

Content Producer

There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.

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