Some Ways & Means To Prevent Major Accidents Involving Buses From Happening
Some years back, a Mr. Lee, the son of a former and well known Minister, was charged for causing the death of a lady driver. And very recently, Sani Express double-decker bus driver was charged for causing the death of 10 passengers near Ipoh. The outcome is still unknown.
Drivers in fact, face the wrath of Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1978. Those who are guilty can even be jailed up to 20 years.
To penalize bus companies for accidents is not going to solve the problem. Steps should be taken in order to prevent accidents from happening instead.
This article will therefore attempt to put forward a few suggestions to help the authorities as well as bus companies to overcome this major headache facing the country today.
1) Condition of bus coaches.
Most express buses intended for long distance routes are mostly new ones. Commercial vehicles undergo 6 months inspection by Puspakom authorities.
Checks conducted by the above authorities nowadays are rather stringent. So, the question of unfit buses being used for inter-state journeys, as a matter of fact, does not arise. The bus companies and Road Transport authority people should continue with the practice.
2) Drivers being too exhausted to drive.
Some drivers are said to be paid very low salary. Some are paid as low as RM500 per month. Drivers therefore try their best to do as many trips as possible, resulting in them becoming over exhausted.
This is dangerous. The management should ensure that its company drivers cannot be allowed to continue driving in such manner.
The only way to prevent such behavior among its drivers is to offer higher salary to them. A salary of RM1500 should be a good sum. But the problem is, are bus companies capable of offering such high pay to its drivers?
Higher salary will incur higher expenses. This might lead to bus companies asking for a rise in bus fares, which in the end will definitely affect passengers eventually.
3) Provide training for long distance bus drivers.
To handle an express bus, especially in the wee hours of the night is not an easy task. Drivers should be given adequate training to handle tour buses. Refresher courses should be provided as often as possible.
Those who have no experience in handling double-decker buses should not be allowed to handle one.
4) Double-decker buses should only be allowed to travel during the day.
Double-decker buses obviously are difficult to handle. Not all drivers can handle such buses. To maintain safety, it is suggested, double-decker buses should be allowed to travel during the daylight hours only.
Avoid double-decker traveling at night. A few months of trials will surely be able to provide the authorities with the answer they seek.
As it is, double-decker buses ferry the same number of passengers a single deck bus does. Such being the case, there is no gain whatsoever in wanting to use double-decker buses. Single deck bus should suffice.
5) Working hours are sometimes found to be too long.
It is reported certain bus companies imposed long working hours on its drivers. Drivers have been reported to undertake long working hours which drain them of all their mental and physical energy when they report for work late at night.
6) Working at two or more jobs to make ends meet.
Due to the lack of sufficient salary, a bus driver sometimes has to hold more than one jobs. Relying alone on bus job is not enough to make ends meet. When we consider the high cost of living that exists today.
7) Providing attractive salary to attract the best drivers.
They say, if your pay peanuts, you will get monkeys. To attract the best drivers for your buses, companies should be ready to pay the best salary.
Eventually, only the best and most qualified drivers would be drawn to become drivers of express and double-decker buses, which without saying are difficult to handle. The bus companies must only take the best, and only the best will be good enough!
8) Trainers and tutors should be qualified personnel.
The task of training bus drivers should be left only to qualified tutors and experts. Presently, there are no qualified personnel of the caliber in the driving institutes that exist in our country.
Before a program of training begins, present personnel, whether from the private centres or the Road Transport Department, should be sent overseas, like Australia, Germany or even Japan and Korea for training.
This has to be done as soon as possible, Delays might only lead to more accidents taking place.
9) Metal dividers blamed for accidents.
Metal dividers whish are presently used along our major highways are mostly made of metal. Some experts believe, these metal dividers, when crashed into by a bus, breaks up and its transformed into a knife which unfortunately turns into a dangerous item.
Many of these metal dividers have from time to time turned disastrous, cutting up into the buses, like a knife which cuts into butter.
Authorities should do a survey over this problem. Can metal dividers be replaced with some of earth or plastic should be a matter of thought.
10) Buses nowadays are built rather flimsy.
Unlike years ago, our buses, which may look attractive and colourful, are in fact built rather flimsy. They do not seem to provide very much protection to passengers.
Authorities should make a study of the structure of our current tour and express buses. They should make a careful study regarding how much protection it gives to passengers in times of accidents and emergencies.
As far as I am aware, our current buses do not seem to be able to offer much protection to passengers during accidents. Let’s take an example of Volvo cars for instance. Volvo cars are renowned for its safety features, as we all know.
Volvo cars have protection bars running across its sides. When an accident occurs, you can be quite certain passengers in a Volvo car will be adequately protected as compared to other models.
Likewise, can the authorities see to it that buses, from henceforth, be built stronger, sturdier and capable to provide protection to its passengers? This is not an impossible request to ask of coach builders.
The way we see it today, our present day buses disintegrate or break up into pieces when involved in major traffic accidents. This problem should immediately be addressed.
The authorities, the bus companies, the drivers themselves, all have to play their part if we are to see to it that no more tragedies like the Jelapang Toll incident which to 10 lives recently are to be checked.
Only a concerted effort by all parties can prevent such an incident from happening again. Whether we can prevent if from happening again or otherwise is left to be seen.
In the meantime, all we can do is hope that long distance express bus drivers will continue to drive with upmost care. And in doing so, no such unforeseen incidents will ever happen again.
The suggestions made in this article may appear difficult to achieve, but they are not impossible. If all who are concerned work towards it, the impossible dream, I believe, can one day become a reality.