PETALING JAYA: It is time for the government to establish a national transport safety board (NTSB), transport safety experts and stakeholders said.
The board should, among other things, investigate transport accidents, audit transport safety, review policies, and carry out training programmes.
“With the NTSB, you will have an independent body with the expertise to audit safety across all modes of transport.
“Many developed countries like the United States and Australia have such a body,” Prof Krishnan Rajam, an advocate of the board, said.
Krishnan, who is from the RCSI-USD Malaysia Campus and a former technical officer for injury prevention at the World Health Organisation regional office, hoped the NTSB could be established within five years.
In 2017, then transport minister Liow Tiong Lai had announced that the Cabinet had approved the setting up of the NTSB to act as an independent adviser to transport agencies related to land, rail, aviation, and maritime safety.
The idea for the board was first mooted after a bus crash that killed 37 people at Genting Highlands in 2013.
“What is important is that it is independent. Now, if there is an accident, it is investigated by the authority in charge of that mode of transport, be it land, sea or air.
“We cannot keep waiting for crashes to happen before reacting. We take transport safety for granted and we really should not,” Krishnan told FMT.
He said the board should report to parliament or the transport ministry.
Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) director-general Wong Shaw Voon, who supports the setting up of the NTSB, said it may take a while for the necessary laws to be passed in parliament.
“We need a board that is more technical than administrative,” he told FMT, adding that its main focus should be on investigating accidents with the objective of preventing them from recurring.
The Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) said the NTSB should have an arbitrary function where victims of accidents can have a say and for public transport companies to meditate on issues of transport safety.
“Public transport needs to be checked by its users,” said the association’s chairman Ajit Johl.
He said one of the first things the NTSB should push for is the installation of black boxes in buses and more stringent screening of bus drivers.
He said representatives of public transport users should be on the board as well.
Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Mohamad Ashfar Ali said it was important that proposals put forward by the proposed NTSB must be followed up by action.
He said the board should also comprise representatives from each transport industry and sector to ensure more holistic views of what was happening on the ground.
“Very often, people would accuse the drivers of causing accidents as they are the easiest to blame.
“Accidents are not only caused by drivers but other factors such as road conditions and weather as well,” he said.
Karyn Denise Dula Magno contributed to this article