ASEAN should set up a centre to coordinate and share data on road accidents, Malaysia suggested.

The centre would set standards for road accident data among ASEAN countries. It could become a central source for governments to evaluate the effectiveness of their road safety policies before implementing them.

Transport Ministers from the 10 member countries last week set a target to reduce car crash deaths by 50% by 2020 in the region.

But countries cannot measure progress towards this target without accurate and standardised data on accidents, said Dr Wong Shaw Voon, Director General, Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research.

“We are aware that the environmental conditions and policies or even methods used in each country are different, hence the need for a formal and structured channel to carry out the effort effectively becomes indispensable,” he said.

For example, the definition of death by road accident varies among countries, he added. Malaysia counts a road accident fatality if the person dies from injuries after medical treatment for upto 30 days. But in some ASEAN countries, the timeline is within 24 hours or seven days.

The World Health Organisation recommends a 30-day definition: “A road traffic fatality should be defined as ‘any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of a road traffic accident’.”

A third of road traffic deaths in Southeast Asia involve motorbikes and three-wheelers, and 15% involve cars, according to a 2013 report by WHO.