Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Road Safety: ASEAN NCAP Performs Development Test for Blind Spot Technology in Line With ASEAN NCAP 2017-2020 Protocol to Reduce Motorcycle Related Deaths

I managed to attend an event organised by The New Car Assessment Programme for Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN NCAP) last week. It was the inaugural  Blind Spot Technology Development Test on cars that are currently on sale or available in the our market. According to ASEAN NCAP, which is an agency under MIROS (Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research,) the main objective of the test is to improve their capability in performing such a test in accordance with the ASEAN NCAP 2017-2020 protocol, which is where active technology is to be included under the Safety Assist domain in order to reduce motorcyclist fatalities which have the highest road fatalities in the ASEAN region.

According to statistics collected by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), motorcyclist fatality in Malaysia were the highest category with 4,348 deaths reported in 2017. This is a whopping 64.5% from the total number of recorded deaths at 6,740. This is followed by car driver/occupant at 18.8%, pedestrian with 6.5%, lorry at 3%, cyclist 2.4% deaths, others at 1.8%, 4WD at about 1.7%, van 0.9% and bus driver/passenger at 0.3%.

Now, at the ASEAN level, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that motorcyclists (whether two or three wheeled variants) comprised 34% of the total road traffic fatality in Southeast Asia in 2015. This percentage is significantly high compared to car driver/occupant and light vehicles with 16%, pedestrian at 13%, cyclist 3% and others at 34% deaths. In short, motorcyclists end up with the short end of the stick. This is regardless whether they were the cause of the accident or not. The point being is that people end up dead.

Since motorcyclist suffer the most fatalities throughout the ASEAN region (especially in Malaysia - which boils down to various factors which most of you readers know like the lack of discipline and self enforcement), ASEAN NCAP had decided to include Blind Spot Technology (BST) as part of their current assessment protocol. BST is now part of the requirement in obtaining points for ASEAN NCAP star rating. 

The BST or blind spot warning systems aim to eliminate collision between a vehicle, especially motorcycles, coming from either the side or rear of a car when they are in the blind spot zone of the said car. All vehicles have some blind spot even if the vehicles have super large side mirrors. 

BST systems will be able to warn the driver that a motorcycle or any vehicle is approaching and this will help to deter a collision from occurring or at the very least, minimize the injury sustained by the motorcyclist, in certain situations where due to certain situations (like when the vehicles are travelling faster than reasonable human reaction time) where the vehicle or motorcycle was not visible when the car was about to perform a lane change or making a turn. 

ASEAN NCAP tested 10 car models on that day. These are cars (SUV, MPVs and cars) which are sold in the ASEAN market and have been fitted with various types of BSTs. Each car will be tested against 10 target motorcycles of various sizes (from underbone bikes to full sized dual purpose bikes) that are popular in terms of sales in the ASEAN region. Two types of assessment will be performed that are test during daytime and another one at night. During the day, all 10 car models were run against all 10 target motorcycles, while the night time tests ASEAN NCAP only tested five car models against the same 10 motorcycle models. I wasn't there the whole day but I can assume that this was a time constraint and the fact that some of the cars tested have more basic active safety systems which work only on certain situation. 

ASEAN NCAP has stated that it expects that this development test will be able to assess how efficient different types of BSTs fitted inside different car models particularly during lane changing action. In addition, the tests performed during daytime and night-time will assess the effectiveness of BSTs in detecting the visibility of the motorcycles in order to ensure their safety in no lighting condition. 

ASEAN NCAP Secretary-General, Ir. Dr. Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim mentioned that the BST development test marks ASEAN NCAP’s plans in performing actual assessment to test the effectiveness of BST in detecting motorcyclists riding in blind spot zone. This accord with ASEAN NCAP’s objective to reduce motorcyclist fatalities especially during lane changing action. The test were performed based on the requirements stipulated in ISO 17387 which is the criteria for the testing. The tests will also prepare ASEAN NCAP for their future roadmap for 2021-2030 that will place priority in motorcycle safety by having a special domain for it in the future assessment. 

ASEAN NCAP stated that they are appreciative for those that participated. This included Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Volvo, Mercedes and Hyundai, Motorcycle & Scooter Assemblers And Distributors Association of Malaysia (MASAAM) together with two motorcycle manufacturers, Boon Siew Honda and Hong Leong Yamaha Motor Sdn. Bhd who had contributed and cooperated to make this event a success.  According to ASEAN NCAP, this is the first collaborative programme organized between car occupant manufacturers and motorcycle manufacturers with ASEAN NCAP. 

The event was also witnessed by government officials from the ASEAN region as well as representatives of the companies and group mentioned. Of course, this being the first, it was actually quite a task for the folks at ASEAN NCAP. The event and testing was conducted at the Putrajaya airstrip so it was a little restricted in some ways. I do think that things will get better when they do conduct another round of testing and will even improve if and when ASEAN NCAP get their own proving grounds. 
 Prof. Dr. Wong Shaw Voon, Chairman of ASEAN NCAP

 Dr. Siti Zaharah binti Ishak, Acting Director General of MIROS

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