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Novel ways to reduce express bus crashes
By YS Chan
The spate of accidents involving express buses will continue unabated if current regulations, industry practices and public preferences remain unchanged.
Road safety is determined by four main factors or 4Es. The first three are well-known and they are engineering, education and enforcement. The fourth is example, which is often overlooked.
Many people forget that children learned to behave by imitating their parents and people around them, and less on what they were told.
Adults would try to bend than comply with the rules, often breaking them when they think they could get away with it.
Express buses ply along highways and no longer on winding trunk roads as in the past when drivers had to use the opposite lane to overtake slower vehicles.
Many modern buses are equipped with air-suspension, automated gear changing system and many other advance features that are found only in top range motorcars.
While engineering has improved in leaps and bounds, the same cannot be said on education and enforcement.
Education has long been a failure in this country simply because there is little emphasis on personal development. Adults too do not set good examples for children to follow, such as being courteous, which is manifested in our poor behaviour on the road.
Enforcement had been lacking simply because regulators were not held accountable. The authority that introduced or amended any law should also be responsible for enforcing it. It is inexcusable to cite any reason, including lack of enforcement officers.
Sebagai contoh, city streets are painted with thousands of kilometres of yellow lines. But if there are no permanent plans for enforcement against illegal parking, they should not have been painted at all.
The public could easily be roped in to help in surveillance and recording, with enforcement agencies retaining full power over the issuance of summonses and collecting fines or charging offenders in court.
The surveillance could be carried out by appointed concessionaires that employ and train ex-servicemen as video cameras crews to record speeding, jumping red lights and other offences.
As concessionaires would only be paid on clear evidence submitted, it would not cost the government a single sen to make our roads and streets safer.
Closed-circuit television cameras should be installed at the express bus driver cabin, and if possible transmitted live to a 24-hour operations centre, so that a buzzer can be triggered to warn drivers found sleepy or using the phone.
As a section of the public would not be in favour of banning overnight express bus service, we must do our utmost to ensure bus drivers are not sleepy during unearthly hours.
The rule requiring an additional driver for long distance and overnight runs have not prevented but could have increased accidents.
Well-rested drivers haveA no difficulty driving long journeys, whether from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Singapore or Kota Bharu.
But having an extra driver on board have only resulted in two sleepy drivers on both outward and return journeys, which is as good as planting a time bomb.
Before embarking on long-distance trips, drivers need to sleep well, but this is not certain even if they spent the night at home or in a hotel, as nocturnal activities may keep them awake. There are clear regulations on rest and work hours in the aviation as well as land transport industry.