Road accident is the global tragedy with ever-raising trend. In Malaysia, it represents a major public problem because of the high number of victims involved and also the seriousness of the consequences for the victim themselves and to their families as well. There are many factors that can contribute to the road accidents. Some researchers have made several researches and agreed that the major factors that contributing to the road accidents is because of the bad weather, condition of road, human behavior when driving, condition of the vehicle and the leniency of the law enforcement.
Relating to the previous researches, the focus of our study is to identify the trend of road accidents in Shah Alam and the factors that contributing to the accidents. Besides that, the study also focuses on the strategies and ways to reduce the rate of road accidents in Shah Alam. The study will be conducted in Shah Alam which the respondents are among the road users including pedestrians, motorcyclists, car drivers and etc.
2.2 Contributing Factors
2.2.1 Bad Weather
According to a report from the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV) in Netherland, the term weather can be described as the state of atmosphere in term of air pressure, temperature, humidity, clouds, wind and precipitation. The weather conditions will affect the accident rates and exposure to the traffic hazards. A layer of water on the road surface due to rain can cause the vehicles to lose contact with the road surface and to skid.
Besides that, Ellinghaus (1983) has stated that the object carried due to the strong wind, fallen trees and broken branches can also cause the traffic disturbance. Gusts of wind can push the high vehicles such as busses and vans especially when they are on the bridges.
A study from Saudi Arabia (Al-Ghamdi, 2009) reports the number of crash being higher during the fog compared to the other weather condition. The crash happened because of the limited visibility during driving due to the fog. In a fog, the droplets of water are so small and light that they remain floating in the air. This will lead to limited visibility to the drivers because the light is diffused by the fog droplets.
As a result of bad weather, road surfaces may become slippery or slick. Accumulation of water, slush, ice and snow can present hazards to motorists. The manner in which other drivers react to the weather, whether through an extreme excess of caution or a disregard of the dangers posed by the weather conditions, can also contribute to the probability of an accident. When weather conditions render driving unsafe, drivers should attempt to find a safe place to get off the road and wait for the weather to improve. If you are driving at a time of year when you are likely to have your windshield splattered with dirty water, mud, slush, or salt, before driving make sure that you have a good supply of windshield solvent.
In Malaysia, The majority of the investigated cases occurred during fine weather. The proportion of investigated cases during fine weather for 2008 is over presented, with more than 70%, and is significantly higher than those that occurred in any other weather condition, especially in 2009 and 2010. Based on MIROS the data in terms of lighting condition show that for the total number of investigated cases from 2007 through 2010, crashes that occurred during daylight, when it is safe to say that visibility is not a major concern. However, crashes during dark condition and without lighting, which is related to the said issue, are also significant and come in second place after daylight in all four years in terms of the number of investigated cases.
Through report by MIROS, the KSI and fatality indexes according to the environmental components of the crashes, namely the vicinity area, weather conditions and lighting conditions. In terms of the environmental components of the crashes, fatality index is recorded highest for crashes happening at agricultural areas (2.86), during drizzling condition (4.84) and when the surrounding is dark without any lighting (2.67). Meanwhile, KSI index is highest for crashes that occurred at agricultural areas (3.97), during rainy day (7.56), and during dawn or dusk (7.44). This shows that bad condition of weather and surrounding may affect the driver view which can make a higher tendency of accident to occur during that particular situation.
2.2.2 Driving attitude
Whilst commercial vehicles have frequently been found to have high accident involvement rates, only one commercial driver training program has been identified so far in this Asia region. As part of the two year input in Pakistan funded by DFID in the early 1980s, a two week bus driver re-training program was provided. Bus driving standards are observed before and after the course and while bus driving standards showed improvement when drivers knew they were being observed, this improvement did not carry over to other times. This demonstrated the difference between driving skill and driving behavior and the need of enforcement and incentive schemes to encourage good driving standards.
Surveys in driver knowledge and driver behavior were undertaken in several countries worldwide including Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Driver behavior was assessed at pedestrian crossing, traffic signals and priority junctions. As a follow up driver knowledge surveys were conducted in Pakistan and Thailand and both these studies have been published as separate Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) reports.
While the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) also worked on the area of private knowledge with drivers surveyed on sign comprehension and traffic awareness, the CRRI has spent much effort in developing a driver reflexes testing system (DRTS) which seeks to eliminate human bias and includes psycho physical tests. Work in this area has continued over the past decade with a few DRTS systems in use in India.
Human errors play an important role in contributing to the increasing numbers of accident rates. People keen to ignore this factor as they feel they can handle the situation and avoid accidents. There are many types of human errors during driving such as excessive speeding and deviant behavior, taking alcohol during driving and failed to obey the rules and regulations of the road. All of these can be categorized as the risky driving attitudes which may cause road accidents.
Many of accidents that were reported are caused by human errors. According to Nasasira (2009), there are about 80% of the road accidents reported in Uganda are related to the attitude and behavior of the drivers. This data shows that the driving attitude is the major cause of road accidents.
According to Sabey and Taylor (1980), 95% of the accidents caused by the human factors. Driving attitude was identified as the most central of these factors. Besides that, research by Jashua and Garber (1992) also stated that the most common accident type have resulted from drivers' faults.
Driving attitudes also include the behavior to excessive speeding. Vehicle speed is often credited as being an important cause and contributory factor of road accidents. This behavior may cause danger not only for the driver himself but also for other drivers. Most drivers tend to speed exceed the limit fixed by the government. For example, the National Speed Limits is 90km/h but drivers tend to speed exceed the limit which may cause danger to themselves and others.
According to Solomon (1964), Munden (1967) and Bohlin (1967), all claimed that the probability of serious injury or death are greater at high impact speeds. This shows that the impact of excessive speeding may not only cause accident but may also cause a serious injury and death.
2.2.3 Road Condition
Geometric design standards are often taken from motorized countries and thus are not always appropriate given the presence of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users and non-motorised vehicles in the road traffic stream. There has been much effort in safety engineering research to minimise the risk of accidents and DFID sponsored the development and publication of Towards Safer Roads (TSR) which was the first major manual to address safety engineering and planning in developing countries. TSR also introduced the practice of safety audits (a standardized procedure for checking the safety concerns of road projects from the feasibility stage through to final construction and operation). Formal safety audits have also begun to be used recently in Nepal, Malaysia, Fiji and a number of other developing countries including Bangladesh.
Identifying safety impacts of geometric design modifications was a research focus in PNG and was recently reviewed for the latest version of the Highway Design and Maintenance Programme (HDM4). Recent research funded by Sweroad included the development of a traffic safety effects catalogue to include the various findings of the impact of geometric design and traffic control features on road accidents and accident rates.
Several projects both on implementation and the research side have focused on traffic engineering and traffic management issues with applied road safety benefits. For example, Australian Aid projects in Papua New Guinea and Western Samoa follow this pattern as does the past research in CRRI on roadside development and road signs. The research recently started on the design and implementation issues of median installation for example are illustrative of the types of research being undertaken in this area.
In Malaysia, it was reported that many of the cases of road collision involve the vehicle leaving the roadway and hits the fixed objects along the roadside such as the trees and guardrails. This may cause by the slippery road due to the rain and even because of the poorly designed and constructed roads.
Most of the roads in Malaysia are pavement designed. In pavement design, there are several characteristics that need to be considered such as skid resistance and the texture depth. These characteristics will determine the condition of the road whether it is risky or not. According to Davis (2001), the moisture on the pavement surface may prevent vehicle tires from making adequate contact with the road surface. This will increase the level of slippery on the road which may cause road accident.
2.2.4 Vehicles condition
Vehicles are one of the factors which can contribute to the road accidents. This is because the vehicle that we ride is a medium for us that put us in the road and if the vehicles itself are not in a good shape and condition, the tendency for the accident to occur is more likely compare to a well manage vehicle condition.
A well-designed and well-maintained vehicle, with good brakes, tires and well-adjusted suspension will be more controllable in an emergency and thus be better equipped to avoid collisions. Based on the statistics which have been produced by MIROS, during 2007-2010, the brake defects in vehicle have recorded 20 cases while tires defect have recorded 14 cases. So, that is why some mandatory vehicle inspection schemes include tests for some aspects of roadworthiness have been conduct by the JPJ in order to make sure that the vehicles that is going to be used are in a good condition,
The design of vehicles has also evolved to improve protection after collision, both for vehicle occupants and for those outside of the vehicle. For example, in modern day car, a lot of safety features have been include likes Anti-lock braking system (ABS) to prevent skidding allowing the driver to remain in control. The vehicle stops more quickly as there's more friction between the road and tires, traction control to prevents skidding while accelerating so the car can quickly escape a dangerous situation and safety cage to strengthens the cabin section to protect people in a roll-over accident. Much of this work was led by automotive industry competition and technological innovation.
Some crash types tend to have more serious consequences, Rollovers have become more common in recent years, perhaps due to increased popularity of taller SUVs, people carriers, and minivans, which have a higher center of gravity than standard passenger cars. Rollovers can be fatal, especially if the occupants are ejected because they were not wearing seat belts (83% of ejections during rollovers were fatal when the driver did not wear a seat belt, compared to 25% when they did). After a new design of Mercedes Benz notoriously failed a 'moose test' (sudden swerving to avoid an obstacle), some manufacturers enhance suspension using stability control linked to an anti-lock braking system to reduce the likelihood of rollover. After retrofitting these systems to its models in 1999-2000, Mercedes saw its models involved in fewer crashes. Now about 40% of new US vehicles, mainly the SUVs, vans and pickup trucks that are more susceptible to rollover, are being produced with a lower center of gravity and enhanced suspension with stability control linked to its anti-lock braking system to reduce the risk of rollover and meet US federal requirements that mandate anti-rollover technology by September 2011.
According to the research by Chin Shu Pei (2009), she has stated that the relationship between the road surface and the type of tire, tread pattern, tire pressure and tire condition may affect the road surface friction and cause the vehicles to skid off the road. She also added that tires in poor condition will not have adequate braking friction on any pavement surface.
Motorcyclists have little protection other than their clothing; this difference is reflected in the casualty statistics, where they are more than twice as likely to suffer severely after a collision. In 2005 there were 198,735 road crashes with 271,017 reported casualties on roads in Great Britain. This included 3,201 deaths (1.1%) and 28,954 serious injuries (10.7%) overall. Of these casualties 178,302 (66%) were car users and 24,824 (9%) were motorcyclists, of whom 569 were killed (2.3%) and 5,939 seriously injured (24%). In Malaysia, it is recorded that 4,067 motorcyclists died in 2010 by MIROS. This represents about 60 per cent of the 6,745 road fatalities. In 2008, 3,898 motorcyclists were killed out of a total of 6,527 fatalities. Motorcyclist deaths on average accounted for 60 per cent of the total road fatalities in the last decade. MIROS road safety engineering and environment research director, Jamilah Mohd Marjan said the spike in deaths was due to the rise of the number of riders.
As we can see in the another country where both Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in United Kingdom and Indian Institute of Technology (ITT) IN India have conducted a research into vehicle design and injury control. In Papua New Guinea the MAAP system identified many casualties occurring in run-off accidents in open top pickups. Open top pickups are a common public transport mode and are often heavily loaded with passengers in Papua New Guinea. TRL concluded research into vehicle design to minimize such injuries.
IIT have modeled crash impacts of bus fronts and three wheeler motorized scooter taxis to determine how the design can be altered to reduce injury severity to pedestrians hit by buses and the Three Wheeler Scooter Taxi (TST) drivers, passengers and pedestrians in TST crashes. TSTs are found to be unsafe for all three user groups (drivers, pedestrians and passengers at velocity impacts as low as 15 to 20 kilometers per hour). Minor modifications were found to make a significant difference in the safety to all three user groups in crashes up to speeds of 25 to 30 kilometers per hour.
IIT research also identifies structural weakness in motor cycle helmet design. Earlier work had identified a majority of head impacts and two wheel crashes to be sustained on the side of the head yet VIS standards did not include a side impact test. IIT devised and implemented a side impact test and when all helmets in general were found to be inadequate in side impact, BIS amended the motorcycle helmet standards. Delhi Police have sponsored this research and later publicized the findings and distributed guidelines for customers and the relative rankings of the different helmets.
Around the same time that ITT was studying the relative safety of motorcycle helmets in Delhi, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) was also studying the use of motorcycle helmets and conducting opinion surveys on the use of motorcycle helmets in several metropolitan cities where motorcycle helmet usage was mandatory. These studies all helped to influence road safety policy in India.
2.2.5 Leniency of the Law Enforcement
While most if not all countries in Asia and Pacific have revised their road regulations in the past 15 years, little bilateral technical assistance seems to have been provided in this sector nor does there seem to have been local research effort in such countries despite many countries sharing the same base for road regulations (The British Motor Vehicle Code 1939). Little exchange of information and experience has occurred and traffic regulations have generally been revised individually by each country. No regional manual has been produced similar to such manuals that exist in Africa and other regions of the world.
Traffic Police training programmes have been developed by the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) with sponsorship from the Ministry of Surface Transport. National workshops on traffic police training were also organised in 1992 and 93. Traffic police from 23 metropolitan cities were trained before the project was discontinued. Ongoing at the same time was CRRI research project analysing the past 10 years of traffic violations from Delhi covering 1980 to 1990. The analysis revealed misguided priorities with administrative violations being enforced more frequently than the more dangerous moving violations.
Highway patrolling was quite effective when it was introduced in Pakistan in the early 1980s as it discouraged overtaking and targeted road safety parking, both of which were known to contribute to road accidents in Pakistan.