ASSESSMENT OF ROAD SAFETY IN THE ASEAN REGION

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1 ASSESSMENT OF ROAD SAFETY IN THE ASEAN REGION Ricardo G. SIGUA Associate Professor Department of Civil Engineering University of the Apacible Street, U.P. Campus Diliman, Quezon City 111 Tel/Fax: +63 (2) Hilario Sean O. PALMIANO University Extension Specialist National Center for Transportation Studies University of the Apacible Street, U.P. Campus Diliman, Quezon City 111 Tel/Fax: +63 (2) Abstract: The paper discusses the issues and concerns of the 1 ASEAN countries regarding road safety. Recognizing the potential threat of traffic accidents predicted as the 3 rd ranking cause of mortalities by 22, the WHO in April 1, 24 declared the World Health Day with Road Safety as its theme. Also, it has been recognized that while road safety situation in developed countries is improving, the problem seems to be worsening in the developing ones. Among the ASEAN, a number of countries have managed to limit the casualties on the road. However, some emerging member countries which are experiencing rapid motorization largely due to increase in motorcycles are having serious problems. The paper analyzes the major causes of accidents and trends in number of casualties based on population, GDP and vehicle registration, identifies the most vulnerable road users, and presents the respective member country s estimates of the cost of accidents. Key Words: road safety, traffic accidents, cost of traffic accidents 1. INTRODUCTION One undesirable reality that comes with development is increase in traffic accidents concomitant with increased motorization and infrastructure. The present world scenario depicts that traffic accidents claim approximately two human lives every minute. Even on the backdrop of rampant underreporting, the number of traffic related deaths annually worldwide has exceeded the million mark, around 7% of which occurs in those countries which the World Bank classifies as low or middle income ( Lamm, et al, 1999). This apparently worse scenario among developing countries like most ASEAN countries may be explained in that priorities are geared toward efforts for infrastructure development, on improving mobility and addressing the need for a better public transportation system. Concerted efforts to ensure road safety then takes a back seat (Sigua, 2). While the problem of road safety is improving in developed countries, the situation seems to be getting worse in developing ones. The very high growth rate of vehicles in the ASEAN countries has compounded the problem of road safety. Figure 1 shows the trend of motorization in ASEAN countries. In the case of the, the volume of vehicles has more than doubled in the past 1 years (1.88 million in 1992 and 4.19 million in 22). Once merely a status symbol, owning a car has become a necessity due to the inadequacy of public transportation services and the deterioration of the environment caused by pollution. In other countries, the large volume of motor vehicles is attributed to the rapid increase in the number of motorcycles. 232

2 Vehicle Registration 3,, 25,, 2,, 15,, 1,, 5,, Year Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Indonesia Lao P.D.R. Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand Vietnam Figure 1. Growth in Number of Motor Vehicles in ASEAN Countries (Source of Data: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, 24) Figures 2 and 3 show the trends of some socio-economic indicators in the ASEAN Region. In Figure 2, the positive growth in GDP has become prominent from The population in each country has been increasing at almost the same pace of roughly 2% per annum (see Figure 3). GDP (million US $) Year Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Indonesia Lao P.D.R. Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand Vietnam Figure 2. GDP Growth in ASEAN Countries (Source of Data: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, 24) Population x Year Brunei Darussalam Cambodia Indonesia Lao P.D.R. Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand Vietnam Figure 3. Population Growth in ASEAN Countries (Source of Data: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, 24) 233

3 In the case of the (see Figure 4), the population presently stands at about 8 million and is growing at a rate of 2.2% annually. The gross domestic product (GDP) is also increasing at about 5.5% annually while the total number of vehicles is fast increasing at the rate of 4.4% Growth, % Vehicle Registration GDP Population Year Figure 4. Growth of Population, GDP, and Vehicle Registration () 2. PROBLEM OF UNDER-REPORTING TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS Given the growth rates in all the factors, which increase the potential for road accidents and based on the experience of most developing countries with similar trends, it is very likely that casualties on the road should also increase over the years. However, this increase is not reflected in our reported road traffic accident statistics as collected and collated by the Philippine National Police. On the contrary, the trend in road accident deaths appears to be decreasing as shown in Figure 5. 1 No. of Fatalities Year Police Health Figure 5. Number of Fatalities on the Road as Reported by the Police vs. the Health Sector It is recognized by all (including the Police) that because of the different agencies involved and different jurisdictions, there is a serious problem on the underreporting of traffic accidents by the police. An efficient road accident data system is simply not yet available in the. Moreover, hospital records are not reconciled with that of the police. Within the same period, the estimates of deaths due to vehicular accidents based on statistics from the health sector are also shown in Figure 5. Up until 1998, the health sector used to compile statistics on deaths attributed to road traffic accidents (data are available for 197, 198, 199 and 1998). In 23, a UNICEF-funded study entitled Philippine National Injury Survey was 234

4 conducted. This study revealed the seriousness of underreporting of traffic accidents in the country. Based on the study, about 9,5 fatalities could be attributed to road traffic accidents in 23 (Lim-Quizon, et al, 24). For the same year (23), the police only reported about 9 fatalities. This problem of under-reporting is expected to be more serious for the other types of accidents, namely, injuries and property damage only accidents. The situation in the ASEAN region is shown on Table 1. The estimated figures were based on sources other than the police, the most relevant of which was the records from the health sector. As far as the number of fatalities is concerned, serious problem of underreporting is seen in Indonesia and the. Table 1. Record of Road Accident Fatalities and Injuries in ASEAN Countries (Source of Data: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, 24) Country Brunei Cambodia Indonesia Laos Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand Viet Nam Reported by Police Estimated Fatalities Injuries Fatalities Injuries , ,282 1, ,116 11, ,329 13,941 6,231 46,42 9,299 6,79 7,975 69,313 2,4 28 1,17 3, ,282 1,38 9, ,186 13,186 1,273 2,34 2,55, 18,69 46,42 45,78 774, 9,72 1,529,34 31, Total 43, ,343 75,763 5,25,69 3. VULNERABLE USER GROUPS 3.1 Pedestrians Based on the study of traffic accident victims using hospital data in Metro Manila in 21, the very young people (below 15 years old) would fall under the most vulnerable age group(figure 6). This age group represents 36% of the total population of the country (Vibal, 23). % Who Ends Up in Hospital < Fatal Seriously Injured Age Group Figure 6. Casualties by Age Group () 235

5 Among those victims who ended up in hospitals, more than 5% were pedestrians (Figure 7). About 25% of the fatalities and 4% of the seriously injured pedestrians are less than 15 years old. In Malaysia and Myanmar, more than 1% of the road fatalities are pedestrians. Next to the pedestrian group, a growing concern is on the motorcyclists. Over the last 3 years, the number of motorcycles grows by 4% per annum in the. The situation may be somewhat different from other ASEAN countries where problem in motorcycles is more serious. 6 5 P ercentage Fatal Seriously Injured Cyclists Passenger private Passenger public Motorcyclists Pedestrians Road User Group Others Figure 7. Vulnerable Road User Groups 3.2 Motorcyclists Largely due to the influx of cheaper Chinese models, motorcycles now constitute the main mode of transport in many countries in the ASEAN region as shown in Figure 8. In Vietnam, the motorcycles have practically replaced the bicycles and now constitute about 95 % of the total vehicles. In Laos, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Thailand, motorcycles comprise more than 7% of the total vehicles. It is also believed that motorcycles in Myanmar would have more than 7% share instead of the 37% shown in the figure if the number of unregistered units are accounted for. The number of motorcycles in the includes those which are being used as tricycles, a mode of transport that has become popular all over the country. With the current manner of registering all units as motorcycles without consideration of their intended use, it is very difficult to separate the actual number of motorized two-wheelers from tricycle units. With the rapid motorization, the bicycles and other nonmotorized vehicles have been replaced by motorized vehicles. The process seems to be irreversible for many ASEAN cities due to rapid urbanization. However, there has been no change in regulation - for 2 lane road(in one direction) for example, the outer lane is assigned to 2-wheel vehicles (now predominantly motorcycles with very few bicycles); inner lanes assigned to vehicles (4- wheel). The rule of assigning lanes to vehicle type is applied all throughout the whole stretch of the road, even at the intersection approach. This rule creates a major problem on turning vehicles cars turning right conflict with motorcycles going straight or turning left; motorcycles turning left conflict with cars going straight or turning right. The problem is compounded when the number of turning cars or motorcycles becomes large. 236

6 Vietnam Lao P.D.R. Indonesia Cambodia Country Thailand Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Brunei % Motorcycles Figure 8. Percentage of Motorcycle Population in ASEAN countries (23) (Source of Data: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, 24) Figure 9. Motorcycle Accidents A Common Occurrence Accidents involving motorcycles contribute to the large number of road-traffic related fatalities in most of the ASEAN countries. In Myanmar, 22% of those killed were riding motorcycles. In Thailand, the motorcycle is considered as the most vulnerable mode of transport and constitute 38% of fatalities. Motorcycles were involved in 45% of accidents in Malaysia resulting to about 6% of the total fatalities. The worst situations are in Laos and Vietnam, where motorcycles accounted to about 8% of the total road traffic accident fatalities. In member countries having large number of motorcycles, more than 9% of the road accidents are attributed to drivers error. But this can be seen as mere violation of traffic rules and regulations. Two major violations are identified: (a) Over speeding and/or lack of control of speed. There is a very strong correlation between drunk driving and lack of control of speed. (b) Encroaching on opposing lane. Accidents due to this are oftentimes more severe because of potential direct head-on collision between opposing vehicles There is also a common pattern wherein accidents become prevalent during holiday periods such as New Year/Songkram/Tet holidays. Lack of control of speed due to drunkenness has always been cited as the main cause. 4. ROAD AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS 4.1 Large Area of Conflicts at Intersections Intersections or junctions are normally the points of conflict in our transportation system. Available data show that about one-third of accidents occurred at intersections and this pattern is generally observed in many member countries. In many developing countries in the ASEAN Region, the area of conflict at intersections and roundabouts are very large. A common roundabout feature is to have more than 4 legs and the median too far from the center island thus creating a very large convergence area. 237

7 Motorbikes and other vehicles tend to negotiate some short cut maneuvers which pose great danger to opposing vehicles (see Figure 1). Path of motorbikes taking short cuts NTMK LTT Large Conflict Areas Figure 1. Dangerous Maneuvers of Motorbikes 4.2 Accidents by Time of Day A very alarming information on traffic accidents is that most of these occurred during nighttime as shown in Figure 11. There may be other contributing factors but the major ones could be a) inadequacy of street lighting, b) lack of warning devices, and c) complete disregard of traffic signals during late at night or early in the morning. Driver factor again plays big part as falling asleep, practice of using blinding head lights, drunkenness occurring more at night due to parties, reduced visibility due to smoke-belchers, and even occurrence of night blindness among malnourished drivers. Frequency Time % -3am nn mn Total Time of day Figure 11. Distribution of Accidents by Time of Day (, 2) Source: Traffic Management Group, 238

8 5. QUALITATIVE ASSESSMENT OF CURRENT INITIATIVES ON ROAD SAFETY Table 3 below shows a qualitative assessment of the 1 ASEAN countries concerning current initiatives on how to improve the road traffic safety situation. The assessment was largely based on the opinion of several respondents on the questionnaire administered by ADB Consultants during workshops held in each respective country. The sectors were initially identified based on the ADB Guidelines. Except for Singapore and Malaysia, almost all the countries lack activities in each sector that would help improve road safety. Table 3. Qualitative Assessment of Current Initiatives. Indonesia Laos Sector Brunei Cambodia 1. Coordination & Management 2. Road Accident Data Systems 3. Road safety Funding 4. Safety Planning & Design of Roads 5. Improvement of Hazardous Locations 6. Road Safety Education of Children 7. Driver Training and Testing 8. Road Safety Publicity Campaigns Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand Viet Nam 9. Veh Road Worthiness & Safety Stds. 1. Traffic Legislation 11. Traffic Police & Law Enforcement 12. Emergency Assistance 13. Road Safety Research & Costing 14. Cooperation & Collaboration - strong; - good progress; - weak 6. COST OF ACCIDENTS Life has been considered most sacred and there seems to be strong disagreement whether to put monetary value to it or not. Some people are uncomfortable or emotionally very reluctant to assess traffic accidents involving human lives in terms of money. For while properties and finances may be restored, human lives lost are not. Putting a monetary value to human life or to a fatal accident may be a topic for a heated debate but a lack of the same leaves many including the decision makers still groping in the dark. Laying aside prime loss in terms of human lives, with these occurrences also go tremendous amount of wastage in terms of finances, property, time, resources and services. Medical efforts alone geared towards the treatment and needed rehabilitation of accident victims are obviously huge and tedious. Investigation and litigation processes involved could also be very taxing not only financially but emotionally for the bereaved and grieving family. A great 239

9 amount of labor resources is likewise lost as manpower is reduced due to absence from work for treatment or for processing insurance claims, absence due to injuries with disabilities, and actual loss of certain human assets due to deaths. In the Philippine setting, a single traffic accident can be peculiarly more costly as one accident could potentially cause heavy traffic jams due to too much delay in the investigation and rescue processes. This in turn causes additional losses among all the other people affected. A number of methodologies to estimate the cost of accidents have been introduced in the past and are as follows: Gross output/human capital method Life-insurance method Court award method Implicit public sector valuation method Net Output Method Value of risk change or Willingness-to-pay method These methods are documented by Alfaro et al (1994), Jacobs (1995), Babtie Ross Silcock and TRL (23). The life insurance method measures the valuation of risk associated with the road usage and is determined by the premiums which the driver population is willing to pay. On the other hand, the court award method is based on the actual compensation settlements awarded, which may be influenced by the degree of negligence found. In the implicit Public Sector Valuation method, a set of implicit values, are used to value human lives. However, most of these estimation methods have been generally discredited (Babtie Ross Silcock and TRL, 23). To date, the two commonly accepted methods to estimate the economic cost of accidents are: 1) gross output or human capital method. This approach focuses on the economic consequences of a road accident, and usually also includes a notional sum that reflects the pain, grief and suffering incurred by the persons involved and their family. It is based on the idea that the value to society of avoiding a death or injury is related to the potentially lost economic output and resources. 2) Willingness to pay method. This is based on the amount that a person is willing to pay to avoid an accident. This is a very subjective measure that reflects individual preferences, values and perceptions of risk. It is extremely difficult to reliably estimate and will vary significantly from person to person and from place to place. The Willingness-to-pay method has become the preferred costing method in many developed countries as it has been recognized as the best way to measure for the costing of accidents for the purpose of benefit-cost analysis. Recognizing the difficulty of implementing this method in developing countries due to its data requirements (the method relies on the completion of a complex questionnaire), the ADB publication Road Safety Guidelines for the Asian and Pacific Region recommends the gross output method. The Guideline considers it as the appropriate method for use in developing countries because it relates more closely to direct economic impacts and the practical measurable consequences of road accidents. That is the approach used in this cost estimation and the detailed methodology for dealing with data 24

10 gaps, underreporting, etc. is in line with the guidance document provided to the author by ADB. The methodology of estimating costs of traffic accidents is based on the Gross Output Method which is thoroughly discussed in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Final Report entitled Guidelines for Estimating the Cost of Road Crashes in Developing Countries (TRL and Babtie Ross Silcock, 23). The method is predominantly used among ASEAN countries. In the, a Cost Estimation and Update Handbook was developed in 23 based on this methodology. Determination of Cost Components Consistent with the gross output method and the ADB Guidelines, the accident cost components are grouped into 5 major cost categories as shown in Table 4: Table 4. Cost Component Categories Cost Category Lost Output Pain, Grief and Suffering Medical Costs Property Damage Administration Costs Definition The loss of the value of work that an injured person would have produced during the time that they were absent from work. An allowance for the loss of quality of life and the pain, grief and suffering incurred by injured persons, their family and friends. Cost of treating the persons injured in the crash, including the cost of doctor s fees, medicines, and (if required) the time spent in hospital and long-term care. Cost of repairing a vehicle and other property damage, including the costs paid by the person and their insurance company. Costs incurred by the police and other services in the process of attending crashes and associated activities, and by insurance companies administering insurance claims. Figure 12 provides a summary of the different cost components that may be involved in each accident severity type: Severity Fatal Serious injury Minor Injury Damage only Cost Component lost output pain, grief,& suffering medical administrative cost vehicle repair Figure 12. Different Cost Components of Each Severity Type 241

11 Based on the diagram, a fatal accident would incur lost of productive life of the victim; pain, grief and suffering of loved ones left; medical expense when the victim was brought to the hospital before dying; a number of miscellaneous expenses that would constitute administrative cost; and lastly, cost of a totally wrecked vehicle or cost of repair of a damaged vehicle. Similar cost components may be incurred when a victim become permanently disabled due to a serious injury accident. A minor injury accident would still incur some medical costs, require some paper works and possibly, minor repair of a slightly damaged vehicle. A range of assumptions underlie the recommended methodology. The major additional assumption is that all accidents are costed as though all steps are taken to restore people, vehicles and property as closely as possible to their condition before the accident. It means that: Injured persons receive full medical treatment, are treated in hospital if seriously injured; and recuperate during the recommended period; Persons are considered to be employed (or potentially employable); Vehicles are repaired according to manufacturer s specifications; and An accident report is made and all the proper paperwork is completed and insurance claims are made and recorded accurately. Some Indirect Costs of Accidents Aside from the major cost components previously discussed, there are other costs that may be attributed to the traffic accidents. One is the cost of transportation services for the injured from the accident spot to hospital. In a number of cases, the law-abiding offender is the one that brings the victim to the hospital. In some cases, a concerned citizen may offer his vehicle to bring the victim to the hospital. It is seldom that a hospital ambulance would be called to the rescue of the victim. At present, ambulance services may be provided by some rescue teams that would go to the accident site when notified by a phone call. Losses Caused by Traffic Congestion Traffic accidents often cause bottlenecks. A few minutes of congestion would easily create gridlocks at intersections and so many kilometers of vehicle queues in urban areas. The people affected by such bottlenecks waste time and fuel, and suffer both mental and physical fatigue. Estimation of Cost Components Following the ADB guidelines, the gross output method requires a procedure that is relatively easy to follow. What remains is the problem of collecting pertinent data that will be used as inputs in the step-by-step procedure. While collection of such data does not pose a major problem in developed countries, it proves to be a major task in developing countries like the. It must be stressed once again that traffic accident data are very valuable and thus require conscientious effort on the part of the agencies responsible in data collection. Table 4 provides the method of calculating the cost of each component based on the gross output method: 242

12 Table 4. Estimation procedure for valuing accidents based on Gross Output Method Cost component Lost output Pain, grief and suffering Medical costs Short-term Long-term Vehicle damage Administration cost Estimation Calculated as the average daily wage rate of each person involved in the crash, multiplied by the number of days off work, then added up for all the people involved in the crash. For fatalities and permanent disabilities the calculation is performed over the rest of their expected working life and discounted to an equivalent present value Calculated as a percentage of lost output cost Calculated as the average length of stay in hospital for each seriously injured person involved in the crash, multiplied by average daily cost of hospital care, then added up for all the people seriously injured in the crash. For minor injuries, the cost is calculated as the average cost of a visit to a doctor for treatment times the average number of visits. Calculated as the annual cost of care for persons permanently and severely disabled. The calculation is performed over the rest of their expected lifespan and discounted to an equivalent present value. Calculated as the average cost of vehicle repairs (sourced from insurance company records) multiplied by the average number of vehicles involved in the crash. Calculated as a percentage of resource costs in line with ADB recommendations (.2% for fatal accidents, 4% for serious injury accidents, 14% for minor injury accidents and 1% for property damageonly accidents) Applying the average cost of each type of accidents, the national cost of accidents of the is calculated as shown in Table 5. Table 5. Calculation of National Costs () Accident Type Average Cost (Pesos) Number of Accidents As reported Adjusted for underreporting Based on reported accidents Total Cost (million pesos) Adjusted for underreporting Fatal 2,273, 714 8,18 1,623 18,593 Serious Injury Minor Injury Damage -Only 353, , ,119 69, 1,672 42, ,748 55, 9, , ,8 TOTAL 12,86 973,24 2,548 ($45M) 15,26 ($1.9B) Without any corrections made to the accident statistics collected by the responsible agency, the cost of traffic accidents is about P2.5 billion or US$45 million each year. However, this is a gross under-estimation as it has been shown that there is too much underreporting of accidents. The estimate of the cost based on the health sector data amounting to P15billion 243

13 (or US$1.9 billion) may still be on the low end as there are many cost components that were not accounted for during the application of the gross output method. But this cost is already about 2.6% of the GDP. A better estimate of the cost is expected when more accurate statistics are made available due to improved data collection system. A comparison of costs of accidents in the ASEAN Region is shown in the Table 6 below: Table 6. Estimated Annual Economic Loss of ASEAN Countries Due to Accident Economic Losses (Annual) Country US$ Millions % of GDP Brunei Cambodia Indonesia Laos Malaysia Myanmar Singapore Thailand Viet Nam TOTAL , ,4 2 1, , , Source: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, Sept CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The ASEAN Region as a whole has at least 75, people killed and 5 million injured every year due to traffic accidents. As a consequence, the Region loses more than US $15 billion every year with most countries losing more than 2% of their GDPs. Knowing the extent of tangible wastage, not to mention humanitarian considerations for irreplaceable lives lost, it is high time for our national authorities to accord road safety a higher priority in national planning and policy-making. It is also time to give more credence to research on road safety. An improved understanding of this phenomenon will lead us to conclude that most of these traffic accidents could have very well been prevented, losses avoided, and resources better spent. Focusing on the most vulnerable user groups the motorcyclists and the pedestrians, the goal of reducing traffic accidents on the road can be achieved considerably. Compliance on helmet wearing is a low cost measure that can have a very significant impact for motorcycle riders. Installation of traffic signal lights, or construction of pedestrian overpasses or underpasses, will also significantly reduce the potential conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles. 244

14 REFERENCES ADB, Road Safety Guidelines for Asian and Pacific Region, Regional Initiatives in Road Safety, Asian Development Bank, Alfaro, J., Chapuis, M., Fabre, F. (Eds) (1994) COST 313. Socioeconomic Cost of Road Accidents, Report EUR EN, Brussels, Commission of the European Communities. ASEAN Region road Safety Strategy and Action Plan Report, Sept. 24. Babtie Ross & Silcock and TRL. Guidelines for Estimating the Cost of road Crashes in Developing Countries, Final Report, Department for International Development Project R778, Transport Research Laboratory, May 23. DPWH, Cost Estimation and Update Handbook, Sixth Road Project, Capacity Building Component, C8 Road Infrastructure Safety Project, Department of Public Works and Highways, 23. Jacobs, G., (1995), Overseas Road Note 1. Costing Road Accidents in Developing Countries, Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne, Berkshire. Lamm, et. al, Highway Design and Traffic Safety Engineering Handbook, McGraw-Hill, Lim-Quizon, M.C, et al., Injury Among Children in the : A Situationer, Book Launching and Road Safety Forum, Manila, 24. Sigua, R., The State of Road Safety in the, Journal on Public Policy, Center for Integrative and Development Studies, University of the Press, 2. Traffic Management Group Report of Traffic Accident Statistics, 22. Vibal, T. (23), Traffic Accident Analysis Through Hospital Records, master s thesis, College of Engineering, University of the, Diliman, Quezon City. 245

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