Stop the crash

In Photo: Asean NCAP Secretary-General Dr. Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim cries for change as he divulges that the country lacks regulations in terms of vehicle safety.

OTHER than its recent launch in Thailand early this year that aimed to promote the latest life-saving crash avoidance technologies, “Stop the Crash!” was also the battle cry of the organizers of the recently held 7th Asean Automobile Safety Forum in Berjaya Hotel, Makati City. Spearheading the convention was New Car Assessment Program for Southeast Asia (Asean NCAP), an automobile-safety rating program jointly established by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research and Global New Car Assessment Program (Global NCAP). 

The event was basically to give an overview of the current concerns on road safety in the country and how to better approach the dilemma to efficiently solve it or significantly reduce road crashes.  

Asean NCAP was there to facilitate the various speakers from both the local public and private sectors—thus offered their own solutions as well, which pertained particularly in the safety of the vehicle. 

During the whole-day talk, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Philippine National Police’s Highway Patrol Group first gave the participants a picture of this present state of affairs.

As stated, there are 17 million issued driver’s licenses in the county so far with 8.5 million registered vehicles, 5 million of which are in Metro Manila. The average number of car crashes in Metro Manila per day is 262, or 11 per hour, with 69.3 percent of road crashes can directly be attributed to driver error and a percentage of 53 are fatalities involving motorcycle riders. 

Former Car Awards Group Inc. President and lawyer Robby Consunji even stressed in his talk that there are “gaps in the Philippine legal framework given road-safety conditions, such as the lack of effective enforcement of laws, technology developments and higher safety standards for automobiles.”

Moreso, Asean NCAP Secretary-General Dr. Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim also divulged that the country lacks regulations in terms of vehicle safety.

“When you talk about left-hand drive only countries, as Vietnam regulates cars having at least one air bag, the Philippines sells cars without air bags, so it is the only country that lacks such regulations in safety,” he said. 

In fact, two models last year which were sold in Southeast Asian countries—Kia Picanto and the Hyundai Eon—were given zero stars by the Asean NCAP, with both models having no air bags as tested.

“We believe crashworthiness is important,” Kassim shared, and according to him, how they rate the vehicles is simple. For example, a vehicle with a minimum of two air bags can already be graded with 4 stars, while those with Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) can be deemed a five.

He even doled out the information back in 2015 the most sellable vehicles in the Southeast Asian region that garnered high ratings from their organization. Several of them can be seen on our local roads including Toyota HiLux (4/5 stars); Toyota Avanza (4 stars); Isuzu D-Max (4 stars); Toyota Vios (4 star); Honda City (4/5 stars); Honda HR-V (5 stars); Toyota Innova (4/5 stars); and Toyota Fortuner (5 stars).

“We have proven that as long as consumers want more safety in the cars, engineers will create them. In fact, some cars before that had zero stars are now making their cars safer,” the secretary-general claimed. 

As per the organization, though, beginning this year onward, their grading system will be more complex. They’ll judge crashworthiness only 50 percent of the total, while adding another criteria called “Future”, which makes up the other half. It means 25 percent active safety roles and another quarter for child-occupant protection. 

“After 2020, it will be more about collision avoidance, leaning more to autonomous cars,” he added.

Here, their ultimate goal is actually simple: to make consumers be interested in safer cars.

The role of the Information

Superhighway

For Kassim, among the countries that he has already held these forums, it was the first time he encountered the key role of wire media in promoting road safety. 

Carmudi Philippines COO Juan Gregorio Syquia, for one, stated: “With the use of technologies, such as the Internet, which is readily available, we can now educate both consumers and end-users toward both the availability of the vehicle’s  safety features and its proper utilization.”

As he claimed, there are about 119 million mobile users in the country, even outnumbering our very own population. 

Making things happen

In the event’s closing, Kassim conveyed: “You know the problem and you also already know the solutions. You just need somebody—a leader—to make all of these things happen.”

Image Credits: Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes