Malaysian roads are the third deadliest among emerging countries after Thailand and South Africa, according to a 2013 World Health Organization report published on Bloomberg.
Depressingly, despite our aspirations toward becoming a developed nation, our road fatality rates of around 24.0 road deaths per 100,000 population are painfully close to the average figure of 24.1 among low-income nations. As a comparison, middle-income and developed nations average 18.4 and 9.3 respectively on the same metric.
Transposed against an estimated population of 30 million Malaysians, it means we are losing 7,000 – 8,000 people on the road every year.
It is not for a lack of effort that the death toll on our road continues to return depressing numbers year-in year-out. Authorities run safety campaigns every year, yet thousands of people return to their loved ones every year in hospital body bags.
Many factors contribute to road accidents. As road users, two important elements are in our control – our car and our own behaviour. Usual tips for drivers include being alert to hazards, be courteous to other drivers, and be well-rested ahead of one’s journey.
For our cars, the basics start with a sound maintenance regime ensuring all critical parts are in working order, fluids replenished, and other wear & tear items periodically replaced.
Automotive safety have come a long way in recent years, and those of you shopping for new cars can help shape demand by asking for more safety. Features such as ABS and electronic stability control have all become important tools to help the driver minimize the risk of accidents, providing the vehicle is driven within reasonable limits. No safety feature covers against reckless driving.
More recently, advanced driver assistance systems such as autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist can mitigate the impact of brief lapses of concentration, though they still require the presence of a reasonably competent driver behind the wheel.
Lastly, it is also worth remembering that accidents can still happen without one being at any fault, so, be sure to buckle all occupants up with young ones strapped into child seats.