| Danial Norjidi |
THE recently launched “Safe and Smart Driving in Brunei Darussalam” book is all part of a grander scheme to have safer roads, a safer driving experience and protecting lives in the country, as plans are in place for bi-monthly road safety campaigns and crash test rating requirements for imported cars.
This was stated by Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Hj Mohd Yusof, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications while speaking to media during a special press briefing yesterday.
The book, launched on January 7, is a product of the Ministry of Communications through the Land Transport Department (JPD) and Brunei National Road Safety Council (BNRSC), and contains 23 chapters, dealing with topics such as driving licences, driving tests, knowing your vehicle, vehicle maintenance, car modifications and others.
As the permanent secretary said yesterday, “This book is the first of its kind, and hopefully it will serve the general public to make full use of this book in terms of how to educate themselves in terms of the right driving ethics, the right tools to look at, the right signage and what to do in cases of emergency when you are driving a car, and generally, the right things to do while driving. We want people to be safe and drive smartly at the same time.
“This book will, Insya Allah, complement the curriculum of the driving schools that we currently have and we hope to basically target a wide audience; not only drivers and adults but also school students, ie those who will eventually be getting a driver’s licence.
“We have thus made the book very reader-friendly with cartoons, caricatures etc, and this is one way to entice the public, particularly the young, to read this book.”
As he explained, the whole intention of the Ministry of Communications in collaboration with the Brunei National Road Safety Council, for which he is the chairman, is to see safer roads, and to keep lives safe every day on the roads.
“There are many angles that we are looking at. One of the big angles is by educating the public, which is something that is not only challenging but calls for collaboration with many parties, not only from the government, but also the private sector, associations, NGOs, and hopefully we can widen it to schools,” he said. “At the end of the day we’re talking about smart collaboration. We have the Brunei Automobile Traders Association (BATA) and others.
“We hope to look at a kind of education or road safety campaign as a bi-monthly initiative. We are working on this closely with BATA, and Insya Allah with the start of 2015, we hope to have a road safety campaign every two months.”
On his next point, he shared that when they came up with the publication, they looked at best practices internationally. He said that the book was in fact conceived after looking at other countries, and was done in such a way as to offer something very user-friendly to the public.
As he explained, they came up with it as “something that will help us and the public to know more about: driving techniques, your car, the roads, ethics, and yourself as a driver. We hope to share a lot of updated information to the public of the current procedures and processes of the Land Transport Department.”
One thing raised in the book is the practice of NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) or crash test ratings. Touching on this, he said, “As of now, we are not trying to impose anything that is a burden to the public. When we impose NCAP as a requirement – and we are still speaking very closely with BATA about this – in most other good practice countries, for cars to be imported and eventually sold they need to meet certain technical requirements.”
He shared, as an example, that one neighbouring and developing country has a minimum requirement of a three-star crash test rating.
“Ideally we would to impose three, four or five-star minimum requirements for cars at an affordable price. This is our initiative to help protect ourselves on the road,” he said. “Having NCAP, looking at our current technical resources, this is where it is an important time for us to collaborate and work smartly, and this is why we are talking to our neighbouring counterparts for an exchange of technical expertise, which we still lack, admittedly.
“It doesn’t stop us from striving to get there; if we don’t introduce this, it will be business as usual and we don’t want that. So we’re looking at the Centre for Transport Research at Institut Teknologi Brunei (ITB), which we have a strong collaboration with, and this is the kind of thing that we hope to look at. We have been talking to the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety which has been very proactive in research towards crash tests and so on.
“These are some of the ways forward for us to supplement this book. We hope to at least make this book a starting point,” he said, adding that they also hope to issue a second edition.
The book will be made available online and free to download by January 17, while those who would prefer to buy a physical copy will be able to do so for $5 at JPD.