Sharing data on vehicle fires could save lives

Recently, there have been reports about vehicles, mainly cars, suddenly bursting into flames on Singapore roads ("Car catches fire along Serangoon North Ave 1; no one injured", Nov 29; and "Tampines 1 evacuated after car fire in basement", Nov 13; both published in ST Online).

Some years ago, I drove to a motor workshop because of an engine problem.

When I collected the vehicle and was driving it home, smoke came out of the engine compartment.

I stopped by the roadside, opened the bonnet and discovered that two insulated electric wires had been draped over the metal cover of the engine block.

Apparently, as the car was running, the cover got very hot and the insulating material around the wires caught fire.

If I had not stopped, the soundproofing material on the underside of the bonnet might have also caught fire, and the whole car could have gone up in flames.

The motor workshop admitted its mistake and rectified things free of charge.

I am writing about this experience as I would like to know whether any government department or, perhaps, the Automobile Association of Singapore, investigates such matters to find the main causes and disseminate the findings to motor workshops and also to motorists.

For instance, if motor workshops are periodically reminded not to drape electrical wires over surfaces that get very hot, perhaps the incidents of cars bursting into flames could be reduced.

The same reminders could be disseminated for other causes of sudden engine failure or accidents.

Thus, the safety of drivers and passengers could be improved, and insurance companies could save on hefty payouts and stop increasing insurance premiums every year.

If no one is performing such a vital function, then is it not high time someone was appointed to do so?

Mickey Chiang