Bad road 2

Malaysia has made a commitment to upgrade the safety of the majority of the country’s 144,000 km of roads to meet international standards by the year 2020, according to reports by The Sun and The Star.

Transport minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said on Friday that more steps needed to be taken to stop the increase of accidents and fatalities on the roads – the number of crashes swelled from 476,196 in 2014 to 489,606 last year, while the number of deaths grew from 6,674 in 2014 to 6,706 last year.

These accidents, he said, cost the country RM8.63 billion last year – previous reports stated that this amount could consist of medical costs, insurance and car repairs.

Liow added that the ministry was looking to raise the ratings of its roads under the International Road Assessment Programme (IRAP), a non-profit group that assesses the safety of the roads of more than 70 countries, much like how new car assessment programmes look at the safety of cars currently on sale.

“My ministry together with other stakeholders is committed to elevating the standards of 75% of Malaysia’s road infrastructure to at least a three-star performance throughout high volume road networks by the year 2020,” he said.

The programme claims that each time a road’s rating went up by one star, the level of potential injury and death on that road could be halved. However, Liow said that there would be no point in introducing better roads if drivers’ attitudes did not improve with them, noting that according to IRAP’s protocols, a road could even have its rating downgraded from four stars to one star if motorists on it behaved poorly.

In addition, Liow said that IRAP will also assist in prioritising the roads to improve “by evaluating the costs and benefits of each investment,” adding that an ASEAN IRAP will also be launched in 2018.