Malaysia has, like several other countries in the Asia Region, enjoyed rapid economic development in recent years which has led to a substantial growth in its vehicle fleet. Unfortunately, this has in turn contributed to a steadily increasing annual road accident death toll which over the past 5 years has averaged a 6.5% increase each year with fatalities in 1994 alone now exceeding 5000.
This worrying trend was causing great concern even five years ago such that, in 1990, a Cabinet Committee for Road Safety was formed. One of this Committee's first acts was to set an overall fatality reduction target of 30% to be achieved by the year 2000, and to draw up a national action plan which, it was hoped, would produce such a reduction. However, the current accident figures clearly indicate that this target is not being met gradually as it needs to be.
This paper reviews the efforts that have been made in the road engineering field within the Plan which includes an expenditure of US$35 million on a blackspot improvement programme. The schemes introduced have tended to be high cost and, despite some indications of overall accident savings, the measures have not produced enough impact on the national problem.
Proposals under consideration at present to attempt to bring the situation under control and back on track are discussed. These include the disaggregation of targets to each road authority and the setting up of Road Safety Units within the authorities. These Units would be allocated special budgets for engineering treatments and would have the prime responsibility for achieving their respective targets.