Thursday, 17 April 2014

How we can reduce express bus accidents


Too many precious lives have been lost to accidents involving express buses in Malaysia and each time when an accident happened, all too often, we will hear from survivors that it is the fault of the driver. From the survivors, we can sort of gauge what the driver did while handling the wheel and the lives of the many people that he is responsible for and here are the few very common thing the driver did before an accident – speed like he is in a bus race, chit chatting on the phone without a hands free kit, texting out messages and continuous smoking with only on hand on the wheel.
Since the time when Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik was still the Transport Minister, many ideas have been mooted for the safety of express buses including installing a so called black box at every bus but year in and out; we still read and watch on the news about gruesome accidents that involved busses. Each time when a headline catching accident happen, we read about calls from various quarters for SPAD to act, for JPJ to act, for Ministry of Transport to act until I can be 100% sure that if I am going to read about an accident that involved an express bus today, the very next day I will read about calls for SPAD to act.  
All this make me think, why don’t we empower ourselves to act? We can work together with SPAD and the bus company to prevent an accident from happening. Forget about asking the passengers to tell the driver straight to his face that he is driving dangerously because it is just not in our culture to do so. So, what can we do?
For a start, let’s make it mandatory for every bus company to have a hotline that works 24 hours and the number is to be make available inside the bus at a spot where passengers can easily spot. Next to it will be the 24 hours SPAD hotline number. Next, it should also be made mandatory that the information of the bus driver is available on the dashboard of the bus, just like what we see in the taxis.
With all these information available, passengers are encouraged to call either the SPAD hotline number or the bus company hotline number to lodge a complaint if they found that the driver of the bus that they are currently travelling in are driving dangerously or driving against the law such as speeding or talking on the phone without a hands free kit or texting while driving.
When such a call is received by either the bus company or SPAD, they are to give the driver a call immediately telling them that a passenger or some passengers has just lodged a complaint against them. If the bus company and SPAD are still receiving complaints about the same driver on the same route in the span of 30 minutes, SPAD should then send its enforcement officer or patrol police to stop the bus and conduct tests on the driver if he is under the influence of the drugs or alcohol.
I hope that the Ministry of Transport will pick up on this idea to empower the passengers to act if they felt that the driver of a bus is driving dangerously and putting them at risk. Sometimes, we do not need a grand scheme for something to work. We can start with a mini step that does not require much investment from the bus companies or something hard that will take ages for SPAD to work on. And the most important thing of all, the enforcement must be in place for everything to work.
Enough is enough. It is time to act.

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