The Philippines needs to improve on road safety not only in terms of regulations but the features of cars offered locally.
The 7th ASEAN Automobile Safety Forum was held at the Berjaya Hotel last week, with guests from Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS), a part of Asean New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), to give an overview and address the current road conditions in the Philippines.
Asean NCAP Secretary-General Dr. Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim said 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 airbag, the Philippines sells cars without airbags, so it is the only country that lacks such regulations in [vehicle]safety,” he told Fast Times.
In 2016, two models that are sold in the Southeast Asian countries – the Kia Picanto (Morning in other countries) and the Hyundai Eon – were given zero stars by the Asean NCAP, with both models having no airbags as tested.
“When we source for cars, we always source the ones from the Philippines. If you look into Hyundai, we awarded zero stars just because it doesn’t have an airbag. Now they are trying to improve it so it won’t get zero stars based on our updated safety criteria. The purpose of cars like these is just purely for mobility, and we have to redefine “mobility” and that is the problem the Philippines has because it lacks regulations to regulate cars that are as safe as possible,” Kassim added.
According to data gathered by the Department of Transportation (DOTr), there is an average of 262 vehicle crashes in Metro Manila, or approximately 11 crashes an hour, with 69.3 percent of the road crash incidents caused by driver error. Also, 53 percent of the fatalities of road crashes involved motorcycles.
Lawyer Robby Consunji said 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. He added motorists should follow the soundgrab “Keep right when slow,” meaning they have to follow the rules of road always, given current road conditions.
Carmudi Philippines Chief Operation Officer Juan Gregorio Syquia said the Philippine automotive industry has done a great job in addressing concerns in vehicle accidents by introducing advanced safety features in the market, and it is a matter of how people embrace those features.
“A lot of people may not realize that they have these safety features in their vehicles, but what is good is that the Philippines are learning more about them. They may be enough, but there are other features that are also good to have. With the traffic conditions that we have, the manufacturers have done a good job in bringing what is required,” Syquia told Fast Times.