THE APP CORNER

Making cars safer in the Asean

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NOT all cars are created equal. Some cars are built safer in Japan, the United States and Europe than in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

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This partly explains why out of the 1.24 million deaths and 50 million injuries from road crashes worldwide every year, 80 percent of the fatalities take place in middle-income countries and 12 percent in low-income countries. This is the tragic truth although together the middle- and low-income countries have only about half of the world’s vehicles.

This is why Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Program), an independent international automotive safety watchdog, was organized. Based in the United Kingdom, Global NCAP serves as a global platform for NCAPs around the world. As a member of the United Nations Road Safety Collaboration, Global NCAP provides financial, technical and campaigns assistance to new programs in the rapidly motorizing countries of Asia and Latin America.

Global NCAP receives financial support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the FIA Foundation, International Consumer Testing and Research and the Road Safety Fund.

In 2011, the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) was one of the signatories to the Asean NCAP Protocol together with the AAs of Malaysia and Singapore. The AAs or automobile associations are concerned that the ten Asean countries face a growing burden of road death and injury because of rapid motorization in the region. Asean is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Asean NCAP is aware of the differences in safety features between the specific models carmakers sell in their region and those exported to or assembled in the Asean countries. Since cars sold in Southeast Asia have fewer safety features to attain a lower price point, the crash test results of Euro NCAP are not applicable to the same model cars sold in the Asean. This disparity created the need for an Asean NCAP that aims to elevate motor vehicle safety standards in the region and encourage a market for safer vehicles.

The Asean NCAP tests are conducted in the crash test laboratory of the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) in collaboration with Global NCAP with technical support from the latter, Euro NCAP and Australian NCAP. To be eligible for a five-star rating, a vehicle must have at least two airbags, electronic stability control and a seatbelt reminder. Vehicles are tested for adult occupant protection and child safety with off-set crash tests based on the 40-percent impact crash test regulation of the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations but at a speed of 64 kilometers per hour.

The Asean NCAP ratings serve as a guide to consumers on the road safety worthiness of the cars they intend to buy and offer an incentive to carmakers to produce safer cars. That cars sold in middle and low-income countries are less safe than those sold in developed countries is unacceptable. Global NCAP is urging the automotive industry to ensure that well-established safety standards such as crumple zones, airbags and electronic stability control be applied to all vehicles sold worldwide.

Undoubtedly, AAP shares Global NCAP Secretary General David Ward’s hope that by the end of the United Nations Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, all new cars will meet basic standards for both crash protection and crash avoidance. The 2015 policy report of Global NCAP sets out ten clear recommendations to transform global car safety as well as a realistic and affordable timetable for their implementation.

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