Educating motorists more vital than technology in improving road safety, say experts

Bosch Malaysia's general manager for automotive sales and original equipment in South-east Asia Klaus Landhaeusser warned that an over-reliance on sensors and other safety features may strip drivers of self-control and make them more complacent.
Bosch Malaysia's general manager for automotive sales and original equipment in South-east Asia Klaus Landhaeusser warned that an over-reliance on sensors and other safety features may strip drivers of self-control and make them more complacent.ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

SINGAPORE - Technological improvements to make cars and roads safer are critical, but it is more crucial to emphasise better education, experts said at a panel on Friday (Oct 20).

Mr Klaus Landhaeusser, who is Bosch Malaysia's general manager for automotive sales and original equipment in South-east Asia, warned that an over-reliance on sensors and other safety features may strip drivers of self-control and make them more complacent.

"As a student, I was hammered with reminders to look in the mirror and around you (to minimise blind spots)... Maybe education is much more helpful than leaving it all to technology and making people more stupid," he said.

Agreeing, fellow panellist Kaushik Burman, Shell's sales director for the retail commercial fleet in Singapore and Indonesia, noted that simple acts like ensuring one's tyres are sufficiently pumped would improve fuel efficiency by as high as 27 per cent.

"But a lot of customers don't know that," he said.

Mr Suyash Sarwate, head of safety for ride-sharing firm Uber Singapore, said technology would help drivers but added that the firm will look at the education component for drivers and "how to improve it". 

They were part of a panel at the start of the two-day Safe Driving and Mobility Conference organised by the Automobile Association of Singapore at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre.

Other panellists included Dr Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim, secretary-general for Asean's New Car Assessment Programme, and Ms Shushana Mignott, global pedestrian safety manager for Safe Kids Worldwide.

The panel was moderated by The Straits Times' senior transport correspondent Christopher Tan.

Among other things, panellists also discussed the need for governments to step in to build infrastructure - like barriers to prevent jawywalking - to ensure better pedestrian safety, and whether road safety ought to take into consideration lower carbon emissions and noise pollution.