Volvo Car Corporation transfers knowledge to Thailand, where the Thailand Accident Research Center will be inaugurated on 26 February 2003.
Volvo Cars will use this research facility to channel its expertise in the field of traffic safety to a wider geographic area, helping to cut the number of traffic fatalities in the world.
Official statistics reveal that 14,000 people die in road accidents in Thailand every year. Other statistics, however, indicate that the actual figure might be as high as 30,000 deaths on Thailand’s roads every year.
The Global Road Safety Partnership, an organisation initiated by the World Bank, works on issues that promote traffic safety, with the spotlight on the third world. Together with Volvo Car and the Thailand Department of Highways, the organisation is financing the newly inaugurated Thailand Accident Research Center, TARC.
By systematically collecting data, the research centre will obtain an objective picture of which accident type is most common and which type is most dangerous – facts that the Thai authorities will use when planning for the future. The intention is that new legislation and information campaigns will focus on those areas that are worst affected.
"Our office is at the Asian Institute of Technology here in Bangkok," explains John-Fredrik Grönvall, Volvo Cars’ on-site task manager.
"From there, our accident investigation vehicle can get to any traffic accident in the target area within one hour. The catchment area covers both inner-city and suburban traffic conditions, as well as motorways and rural gravel tracks."
The accident investigation team includes a vehicle expert who examines what has happened, and a road expert who investigates the traffic environment. The team photographs, measures and makes notes about the accident site. Back at the office, they factor in additional information about the accident from other experts in the local network: the police, hospital staff and behavioural scientists.
"We obtain a broad statistical base where we can for example show which junctions are dangerous, which times of the day are most accident-prone and which accident types are most common. In addition, we conduct in-depth studies in which we can pinpoint the causes of individual accidents," says John-Fredrik Grönvall.
The Thai operation will differ quite markedly from Volvo Cars Accident Research Commission in Sweden, which has investigated accidents involving Volvo cars for more than 30 years, and which has put together a huge database of facts from actual accidents. In Thailand, all vehicles and all makes are of equal interest in the research operation – motorbikes, buses, trucks and cars.
"One of the major problems in Thailand is the immense variety of traffic on the roads. There are unprotected road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike-riders – all competing for the same road space as cars and trucks," explains project manager Hans Norin.
"Many people are entirely unprotected as they sit in the back of pick-up trucks, or four-up on a motorbike. When an accident occurs, the consequences are often devastating for large numbers of people."
Volvo Car is partnering the launch and operation of the TARC facility, which will be run and staffed by Thai traffic researchers. A number of experts from Sweden are installing the analysis system and demonstrating the necessary operational methods. Thai researchers will also spend time in Göteborg participating in the Swedish accident research commission’s work.
One outcome of the research center will be a substantial database with accident data, facts that can help Volvo Cars develop the next generation of safe cars.
"Our aim is to share our expertise, not run the operation for ourselves. So in the long term, Volvo Car aim is to withdraw from TARC. This research centre will be owned and run by Thais," says Hans Norin.
Volvo Cars approach of giving back to society is a cornerstone in what is generally referred to as corporate citizenship.
"Volvo Cars chooses to share its expertise in the sphere of car safety," says Vice President Sven Eckerstein. "We are acknowledged leaders in the field of car safety, and it feels only natural that our expertise should be used for the benefit of as many people as possible."
The Thailand Accident Research Center is financed jointly by Volvo Cars (42 %), The Thailand Department of Highways (35%) and the Global Road Safety Partnership (23%).
Sweden’s king Carl XVI Gustaf will inaugurate the Thailand Accident Research Center on 26 February 2003.
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