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Miros as Asean’s road safety hub a good sign for Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR – Dec 5, 2015: The appointment of Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) as the Asean Regional Road Safety Centre has marked the country’s great track record in handling road safety challenges.

Miros which was established on Jan 3, 2007 is a research house helmed by the Ministry of Transport. It operates as the country’s main centre of road safety’s knowledge and information.

The research centre focuses on evidence-based interventions, in which the findings lay the foundations for policies, legislation and measures used to reduce the number of road crashes and related casualties in Malaysia and regionally.

The centre spearheads another three research centres which are the Vehicle Safety and Biomechanics Research Centre, the Road User Behavioural Change Research Centre, and the Road Safety Engineering and Environment Research Centre.

Miros has been appointed as the regional centre on Nov 27 last year, in conjunction with the 20th Asean Transport Ministers Meeting held in Mandalay, Myanmar with the idea to promote and provide road safety knowledge to all 10 Asean member states.

Subsequently, several key information were made important, including the traffic laws and regulations, road accident and transport data, and road safety training and campaigns to the community.

Earlier, it is acknowledged that such necessity is driven by the existing challenges facing South East Asia countries that are due to the current situations and different expertise of road safety of the respective states.

The meeting had conceded that there is an inconsistent system in monitoring road safety situation between member states, which resulted in unrealistic and inaccurate comparison between them.

The member states are also seen to face different levels of economic developments, which would cause different level of road security protection.

Being the Asean road safety centre, Miros is now responsible in helping and guiding member countries to reach a higher level of road safety performance, aside of designing and implementing programs based on each region’s characteristics.

The centre will also work to harmonise the standards, guidelines and methods of road activities, while providing technical guidance and effective leadership.

It is also essential for the centre to monitor and evaluate the implementation of road safety program regionally. The centre then needs to combine and harmonise regional comparison so as to represent regional road safety condition.

The appointment marked the country’s relatively good track record, despite of being placed second among 160 countries with higher number of road accidents in the region based on previous monitoring system which findings has since been disputed.

In an interview with The Mole, Miros director-general Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon said despite the recognition, the country still needs a lot of room to improve its road safety initiatives.

He said Miros, with the support of Transport Ministry is exceptionally committed in lowering the number of road accidents and fatalities caused by them.

Wong nonetheless pointed out  that in terms of fatality rate, the country is actually on a promising condition despite the current perception which suggests otherwise.

“For us (Miros), even one life matters. We are dedicated in ensuring that the fatality rate due to road accident can be reduced, or better, eliminated.

“We have also proposed the setting up of an Asean data and information coordination centre on road safety in order to reduce road fatalities by 50 per cent in the next five years.

“In fact, we can make this fatality rate dropped faster, provided that we manage to overcome the existing challenges together. By this, I am referring to every stakeholder in the country and the region as well,” he added.

Wong further illustrated that the challenges facing the country are stemmed from the attitude of Malaysian road users.

“The biggest and most difficult problem that we need to manage is road users’ attitude. Such problem involves several behaviours, which entail speeding on the road, and even the attitude of blaming others over road accidents,” he added.

The Miros DG added that road users are seen as being ignorant of the speed limit that has been designated to roads. In addition, road users often put the blame on others including the authority should road accidents occur.

Conversely, Wong agreed that there are gaps that need to be improved, in terms of recovering road conditions, as well as adopting stringent enforcement towards unbecoming behaviours.

He then commented that several mechanisms are crucial in combating these challenges, which will only be successful if it involves holistic participation by every related party.

“The challenges, especially in terms of attitude problem can be solved if the authority, road users, and the automotive industry are committed to work together.

“Road users are responsible in changing their ill habits and adhering to the regulations spelled out by the authority.

“The automotive industry must be committed in producing automobiles that are well-built and resistant in handling impacts, should accidents occur to road users.

“In the meantime, we are hoping that the media will play the role to advocate behavioural change among road users. If not, at least advocate the people to become more cautious on road,” he added.

Wong reiterated that the bottom line is whether Malaysian road users are “willing to become better” on the road and are dedicated to help reduce road accidents.

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Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

Amira Nutfah Zulkifli

A budding journalist. Aside of struggling to understand Malaysian political scenario, she is inspired to study and fight for women's emancipation. Above the rest; she simply loves her nation.