Fri, 05 Mar 1999

Traffic accidents underestimated

YOGYAKARTA : A transportation expert said that the number of road accidents every year is probably much higher than official estimates, with 10 accidents for every two recorded ones.

Heru Sutomo of Gadjah Mada University said on Thursday that it was hard to believe that accidents since the 1980s remained at 10,000 to 12,000 per year, when vehicle numbers had more than doubled.

The government had not yet adjusted the road bearing capacity to take into account the increased volume of traffic, adding to the probability of more accidents occurring, he said.

Speaking at the inauguration of an organization focusing on traffic and transportation studies, Lintas Sinergi, Heru said that programs to curb accidents were difficult because of the "far from perfect" public administration and corrupt mentality of officials.

To create a checks and balances system, he said that "driver's licenses should be issued by the Ministry of Transportation and police should only be allowed to withdraw them when traffic violations occurred".

Traffic accidents were a primary cause of death of people of productive age, he said. The official statistics agency states the productive age group is 15 to 64 years old.

Heru proposed the establishment of a National Traffic Safety Council to coordinate all related bodies. (44)