I felt very unsafe driving the freeways in Malaysia but I wondered whether that was due to my unfamiliarity with the roads, unfamiliarity with the seemingly chaotic behaviour of the people using them or unfamiliarity with the speed at which they pass the world by. There seemed to be differing rules applicable to people of the kampungs to people of the city, with usage of helmets being one of them. And even when I was there last, a law had recently been passed pertaining to the compulsory wearing of seatbelts for car passengers.
With this in mind, I thought I’d try and find out just how unsafe Malaysia’s roads are, in comparison to my own in Australia, using some widely available statistics associated with fatality indices.
According the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the first index I will use is a measure of deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles and is a means of comparing road death levels among nations by taking into account their different levels of motorisation. The second index is a measure of deaths per 100,000 population and is a measure of the public health risk associated with road trauma.
Figure 3 and Figure 1, as shown below, are compilations of the fatality indices for OECD nations for 2006 as sourced from the Australian Government’s Department of Transport and Road Safety International Road Safety Comparisons: 2006 Report.
Australia recorded 1.1 road deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles, which was the ninth lowest rate of the 26 nations. Switzerland recorded the lowest rate (0.7 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles) and South Korea recorded the highest rate (4.0 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles).
In accessing the Malaysian Government’s Department of Road Safety statistics, their fatalities index for 2006 comes in at 3.98, placing them just behind South Korea.
Malaysia does, however, top the charts when focusing on road fatalities per 100,000 population. In 2006 there were 6,287 fatal accidents to a population of 26.64 million people leading to a fatality index of 23.6 per 100,000 population. This value overshadows all OECD nations with the closest being Greece at 14.9 deaths per 100,000 population.
I guess my gut feeling was correct; I was four times as vulnerable to death racing Malaysia’s tollways compared to chugging along Melbourne’s Monash.