How Safe Are Indonesia’s Cars?
The question is often raised when we see traffic accidents and fatalities in the news: How safe are our cars? Lately it seems that more and more people are dying on the roads, and although the majority of traffic-related deaths in Indonesia are motorcyclists, we often see cases where cars and buses are involved.
So how safe are the cars here, and do the vehicles on the roads include enough safety features? Many cars sold in Indonesia lack additional safety features such as air bags, rear seat belts and anti-lock braking systems. These features are often optional extras that cost money, and many people opt out or choose to instead spend on upgrades for their entertainment or air-conditioning units.
There’s another question of equal importance: To what lengths does the local automotive industry go to conduct comprehensive vehicle crash tests?
Crash tests may have been performed by the manufacturers, but there is still a need for a third-party agency to conduct them on independent vehicle variants sold in Indonesia. Only then can consumers know that the cars are as safe as the promotional material advertises.
The world’s first New Car Assessment Program was born in the United States in 1979, and similar NCAP programs have since been established around the world. In Europe, there is the Euro NCAP, which is one of the toughest, conducted on every new car entering the European market.
In December 2011, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) signed a memorandum of understanding with Global NCAP, a nonprofit organization promoting vehicle safety and access to independent information about it, to develop an Asean NCAP for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Global NCAP was established as part of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-20) program to serve as a platform for promoting the development of NCAPs in emerging markets and encouraging best practices in the use of road safety information for consumers.
“The UN Decade of Action was launched in 2011 to try to reduce by half the forecast increase in the level of road fatalities by 2020,” reads the Global NCAP brochure. “Consumer crash test programs promoted by new car assessment programs have proved very effective in creating a market for safety that encourages car purchasers to choose safer products.”
The MoU between Miros and Global NCAP is supported by automotive associations in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, while the Australasian NCAP, a joint body for Australia and New Zealand, will assist in developing the standards for the upcoming Asean NCAP. Indonesia has not yet signed the MoU.
The main objective of the Asean NCAP is to independently test all vehicle variants sold in the region; cars sold with a Euro NCAP rating do not always share the same safety features when their Southeast Asian variants hit the streets.
The Miros PC3 Crash Lab is a newly launched crash laboratory. It is also the region’s first facility to test the crash-worthiness of cars, according to reports by the New Straits Times, a Malaysian newspaper. The cars will be tested at the laboratory in accordance with Euro NCAP standards to determine their safety.
Vehicle safety is a pressing matter, particularly in emerging markets where more cars are rolling off assembly lines and onto roads that often lack a safe driving culture.