Indonesia's agricultural mindset is partly responsible for the number of road accidents in the country, said an economist.
Firmansyah, dean of the University of Indonesia's School of Economy, said the spirit of gotong royong, or helping each other and doing things together, was very much present when it came to Indonesians' driving and their use of roads. For example, he said, people often entertained themselves by gathering in streets to watch races.
"The road is not ours and is not just built for us. In stark contrast, Europeans are much more individualist and concerned about the risk factors while driving," he said in a public seminar on basic safety rules for transportation users and other street users held at the faculty on July 15.
Firmansyah said the challenge was changing people's mindsets to help them see roads as public spaces, in the hope of decreasing the number of accidents caused on the roads.
The Jakarta Police reported 36,000 people dying in traffic accidents in 2006, of whom 19,000 were motorcycle users. The data also showed 91 percent of the accidents were caused by human negligence.
Artists performing Betawi's Lenggong Manis dance opened the seminar, held by state traffic insurance firm PT Jasa Raharja and UI's management student society. A documentary on highways - where most of the traffic accidents occurred - was then screened.
Jasa Raharja director Diding S. Anwar said that users of land, air and sea transportation were all insured. By law, he said, transportation operators and vehicle owners were obliged to apply for insurance.
"Insurance is not only a way to collect money, but it also protects people and assets as well as helps recover damages," said Lisman Manurung, an expert on public policy.
Hendrah Nugroho, head of the land transportation department at the Jakarta Transportation Agency, said road accidents were more frequent as the number of road users increased. Every day, he said, there were an additional 639 cars and 1,996 motorcycles on the road.
"Our policy is to stop the traffic from growing by putting in place mass public transportation, like the busway and subway," he said.
Risk management analyst Dewi Hanggraeni added the government needed to inform the public about how to minimizing risk.
"Road users have to make sure their vehicles are roadworthy. Bus drivers should check their machines beforehand," she said.
Yufita, the event's project manager, said not all victims of traffic accidents were aware they had the right to claim insurance from Jasa Raharja.
"This is good information we should pass on to others. I just found out that I was insured, just as transportation users were," said Ninik Setrawati, an archaeology student at UI, after attending the event.
Prita Nur Aini
Student of University of Indonesia