Wednesday January 3, 2007
On to the job of saving lives
The newly set up Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros), charged with conducting all kinds of studies related to road safety, will get cracking today. Its director-general Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi, 46, elaborates on the work his organisation will be doing.
What function will the Ma-laysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) serve?
Miros will be the brains for the Transport Ministry. For the first time ever, road safety will have a complete research facility to conduct all kinds of studies related to road safety. The results will be used for new policies and laws.
It is also the institutes mission to help all agencies improve their road safety initiatives. All this will be continuous and require some time to see real improvements. We hope to achieve some of our goals in 10 years time and will use 2010 as the first checkpoint to see if we are on track.
Can you give some examples Miross primary research?
Cost to benefit ratios of road safety initiatives, targeted education, quality control in driving institutes, injury and trauma control, car safety components, simulation of car accidents, real life accident investigations, pedestrian studies including those who are disabled, and human behaviour.
Part of this means we will study firstly, how an accident occurs. Our primary focus will be on single vehicle accidents or accidents that cause two deaths or more.
We will study how and why the death or injury happened.
Maybe the driver hit his head on the steering wheel, maybe his head crashed into the windscreen or maybe his knees were crushed by the instrumentation below the steering wheel. There are numerous scenarios.
Why is this necessary?
So that car manufacturers can take into account how to make the interior of their cars safer and friendlier to passengers.
People also have to be convinced that a slight increase in prices for a car that has airbags could save their lives.
It also gives us data on the kind of driving environment that we have in Malaysia in terms of the condition of our roads and how to make it less dangerous.
The safer the cars are, the safer the drivers will be, and the safer the roads are, there will be fewer factors for fatal mistakes.
Arent accidents and the many deaths caused by the tidak-apa attitude of Malaysian drivers and lack of enforcement by the police?
What we must realise is that human behaviour is not the only factor that causes accidents. Cars and our roads are also contributing factors. It is not possible to pinpoint the cause of deaths and accidents to any one factor.
To put it into context, the death rate has actually leveled off at 6,200 a year. This is still not a good number, but what I mean is that 10 years ago, the death rate was increasing. We have managed to stop it from rising, in the light of the increasing population and number of vehicles. This is a good sign.
This is why our approach is holistic. Everyone has a part to play. Police enforcement is merely one side of the coin and they have long faced manpower and patrol car shortages.
In that sense, Miros will research new kinds of approach the police can take as well as increasing police visibility.
Next year, the road safety education project for Year One pupils in 1,000 schools will begin, which signals the beginning of a new generation of safer drivers.
How significant is the setting up of Miros for you?
After 22 years in this line, it is a dream come true for me and it is my wish that road safety culture be-comes a shared vision of all Ma-laysians. As the director of the UPM Road Safety Centre, my colleagues and I have worked long (more than 10 years) to make road safety a priority for the Government. Now, there is an even bigger job of doing all this research that has never been done before in Malaysia. It is very exciting. Interview by Royce Cheah