Concern over the rising number of road accidents in Malaysia, Volvo Trucks recently organised a safety forum for companies and truck drivers to discuss and raise road safety issues, which also served as a reminder to all on the importance of maintaining good driving behaviour. Part of Volvo’s Globe Truckers initiative, the safety forum also acted as a platform for truck drivers to voice out the issues that affect their job.
Mr Mats Nilsson, Managing Director of Volvo Malaysia said, “We have heard of safety talks and discussions from various parties, so this time, we want to give voice to the group that is most affected by it and who can truly make a difference on the roads – the drivers.”
The forum kicked-off with a road safety presentation by Mr Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic and Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks, who was visiting Malaysia for the first time from Sweden. An expert behind Volvo’s product safety development, Mr Almqvist shared on the company’s ‘Zero Accidents’ vision and truck accident statistics gathered from various accident investigation work done by Volvo’s Sweden-based Accident Research Team.
“Our Accident Research Team has examined more than 1,500 accidents around the world and our collection of data found that 90 percent of traffic accidents were caused by the human factor. Some of the most common reasons behind this human error include distraction, alcohol and speed. Meanwhile, not using seatbelt is a key contributor to fatalities”, shared Mr Almqvist.
He also added that text messaging with mobile phones while driving is a prevalent issue around the world. It increases the risk of an accident by 23 times and is one the main reasons that caused driver distraction.
Touching on the company’s ‘Zero Accidents’ vision, Mr Almqvist shared that it provides a distinct direction for all its product engineering and safety work, in all business operations and in all markets.
“Our vision of ‘Zero Accidents’ is a way of thinking, a mental image of an optimum future state. Ultimately, what is needed to make this achievable is a mindset and behaviour change among all road users”, said Mr Almqvist.
When invited to share their views, truck drivers Encik Abdul Latif, 53 years, of Konsortium Logistik Berhad and Mr Lim Teck Hock, 43 years, of Edaran Livia shared that it is particularly frustrating when drivers of smaller vehicles ignore the close presence of a truck and tried to squeeze through narrow corners or at traffic light junctions.
They said that when an accident happens, truck drivers often get the blame but in actual fact, they are unable to see the presence of another smaller vehicle if it is too close to the truck. They added that drivers of smaller vehicles have never driven or sat in a truck, thus they do not understand the challenges with regards to the visibility of a truck driver.
Both of them suggested that the authorities should help motorcyclists and car drivers understand the blind spots of a truck driver. They believe that education on this can be introduced, implemented and reinforced when people apply for a driving license.
Encik Azmi Mokhtar, 53 years, driver trainer at Swift Logistics Sdn Bhd on the other hand insisted that all drivers regardless of vehicle types and sizes need to understand and practice defensive driving as it will improve driver behaviour and result in a safer road environment for all.
Meanwhile, Mr Albert Chong, business owner and fleet operator said, “We should take up these road safety issues with the Transport Ministry in order to enforce a plan that will educate, instil awareness and empower the younger generation so that they do not take road safety for granted”.
He added that driving schools can play a part in not just providing driving lessons, but also teach a complete syllabus on good driving behaviour and elements of road safety. Mr Chong also agreed that truck drivers often get the blame when an accident happens and that this has affected his company’s vehicle insurance premium through the loss of no claim bonus (NCB).
Mr Almqvist shared the same sentiments when he said that sustainable cooperation between various stakeholders is highly essential if the country wants to achieve an accident-free environment for everyone’s benefit. “Results can only come from joint efforts so it is time for all of us to walk the talk and make our roads a safe place,” said Mr Almqvist.
According to him, in Sweden, newly licensed car drivers are required to sit in a truck in order for them to see and feel the difference. He stressed that it is important for drivers of small and large vehicles to understand and communicate with each other so that they can be kind to each other on the road.
Mr Almqvist also shared that during his two-day visit here, he had observed the driving behaviour of drivers and how he had counted the number of vehicles that did not use the indicator light when changing lanes. He advised drivers to not take things for granted and to adopt the habit of using the indicator light even if the roads behind are clear of any vehicles as this inculcates good driving behaviour.
According to the World Health Organisation, road traffic injuries are one of the leading causes of death, with fatalities surpassing 1.24 million per annum, globally. Closer to home, according to a review by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) and statistics from the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), over 462,000 road accidents were recorded in 2014 with some 24,000 serious injuries and 6,674 deaths. This figure translates to one road accident every 40 seconds. MIROS and PDRM have estimated that the number of road accidents will continue to increase with fatalities surging up to 10,760 if measures are not taken to address this growing concern.