With so many accidents on the road involving express buses lately, I thought of writing this article to provide some tips on how we can make traveling on buses a little bit safer. The following are 8 tips that I came up with:
1) Availability of important items.
Buses especially those which travel interstate, for example, from Penang to Selangor and Singapore to Kuala Lumpur should possess important items such as emergency triangles or cones, first aid boxes and fire extinguishers.
The authorities should constantly check that these items are present in a bus all the time. Stringent action should be taken on any company that do not have them.
2) The duration of trip which a driver is allowed to drive should be limited.
The number of trips a driver is allowed to drive should be carefully monitored. A few driver friends of mine drive from Singapore to Selangor today. And tomorrow, the same driver again drives from Selangor to Singapore. Such manner of driving not only makes the driver tired and lack concentration, over tiredness will eventually contribute towards horrific road accidents.
Company’s management and owners of individual private buses should be penalized for committing such offenses against their drivers.
3) Required stops at rest areas.
From time to time, bus drivers are requested to stop their vehicles to enable passengers to purchase mineral water and other essential items. Rest areas are places recommended for buses to make such stops. For a 250km journey, for example, a bus should stop half way. This would enable both the bus drivers and passengers to get a much needed rest. A refreshed and alert driver will go a long way in preventing accidents.
4) Necessity of having 2 drivers for each express bus.
Long distance driving can be very tiring and it makes a driver exhausted. Express buses normally start off its departure station at 10 pm or even 11 pm. The first driver should ideally drive the first part of the journey.
When the bus stops at its first stop over, the second driver will then take over the 2nd part of the journey, making the entire trip safe and sound. The above practice should be strictly adhered to.
5) Things drivers are prohibited from doing.
Drivers are strictly prohibited to use hand phones while they drive. Smoking by drivers while driving is likewise not permitted. Neither can driver of express bus allowed to eat or drink while they drive.
Another thing drivers should not do is to talk to fellow passengers. This behavior will easily distract a driver from his concentration of driving. A driver should not be distracted from his task of driving.
6) Overtaking another vehicle is allowed only in upmost necessity.
Overtaking along an expressway is very dangerous. It should only be done if there is an absolute necessity to do so. When overtaking, correct procedures of overtaking should be adopted.
7) Express buses should not be permitted to go more than 70 km/h.
An express bus with 44 passengers on board is heavy and hard to maneuver. Furthermore, a bus is a very long vehicle. Therefore, a speeding bus is in reality very dangerous.
Express buses should ideally travel no more than 70 km/h. To ensure that express buses adhere to this speed ruling, all buses should install with a black box. After 3 speed violations, it is recommended that the vehicle should be immobilized. The express from henceforth cannot move any further. It needs specialized mechanic to come to the company’s headquarters to demobilize the vehicle in order to allow it to move again.
CCTV cameras should also be installed in express buses to monitor a driver’s antics. Drivers caught driving badly and flaunting rules are recommended to be severely reprimanded by the management.
8) No sudden replacement of drivers is recommended.
The sudden switch of drivers to replace a driver who has been scheduled to drive the proposed journey is not allowed. Usually, a replacement driver is not ready to take up the duty of a scheduled trip.
The new driver may not be used to or accustomed with the vehicle that he would be driving. All these add up to making the replacement driver someone who is not competent to drive the bus that particular day.
There are hundreds of trips made by express bus daily in all directions. A person has only but to make a visit to Puduraya Bus Terminal to see the hundreds of buses leaving the terminal. It is impossible to monitor all the buses without a doubt.
However, a good and disciplined bus driver will go a long way in preventing accidents which the public do not fancy to hear about. Accidents are bound to happen. But hopefully, the steps which I have recommended will contribute in making or reducing accidents throughout the nation.
With the co-operation of all parties concerned, the J.P.J., the police, highway authorities etc, without a doubt will help to reduce accidents on the road. It may not be able to prevent all accidents from happening on our Malaysian highways, but at least its number can be reduced drastically.