It is high time the authorities come down hard on bus drivers who drive recklessly before more lives are lost

Media Statement
by John Chung

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The latest express bus accident on the North-South Expressway, which resulted in the death of three passengers and injuries to sixteen others, should be a wake-up call to the authorities to check reckless driving amongst bus drivers before more innocent lives are unnecessarily lost.

What came as a shock was the revelation that the bus driver is someone wanted on charges of reckless driving. How on earth was such a person allowed to drive an express bus with the safety of so many passengers at his mercy?

The accident was also doubly unfortunate for one of the passengers, Chong Ping Ping who had to suffer the untold agony of seeing the life of her newly wed husband, Lim Kean Seng cruelly snatched away. Such unnecessary pain and suffering could have been easily avoided if not for the gross negligence of the driver.

Besides subjecting the driver to the sternest punishment possible, the authorities must also arrest the increasing tendency of reckless driving amongst express bus drivers to ensure the safety of passengers and minimize the incidence of such tragedy.

It is common knowledge that many bus drivers appear to be "living on the fast lane". This is truly a cause for concern and such reckless tendency must be effectively dealt with by the authorities.

I had on several occasions urged the authorities to take swift and appropriate action to check the problem of reckless driving amongst expressbus drivers following a series of reported bus accidents in the past few months:

On Dec 11, a university student suffered critical injuries when the express bus he was boarding crashed into a road divider near the North South Expressway Pedas toll plaza. It was believed that the bus driver was speeding and lost control of the vehicle.

Before the Hari Raya celebrations, an express bus driver was killed and a number of passengers injured when the bus crashed into the back of a lorry in Malacca.

On November 5, an accident involving an express bus and a car had also resulted in the death of the bus driver and various injuries to the 28 passengers on board, three of whom were seriously hurt. An eyewitness had pointed out that the bus was traveling at high speed when the accident occurred.

At the same time, the Transport Ministry should review the black box measure to prevent speeding which had proven to be a failure (a recent check by the Road Transport Department on express and tour bus drivers at the
Senawang-Ayer Keroh Highway toll had revealed that 90% of such vehicles had faulty black box) and come up with an alternative measure which is more effective to deal with the problem.

At the same time, bus companies must also play their part and screen through the bus drivers they hire to make sure that they are competent and not guilty of recklessness. Some of the root causes that may contribute to the problem should equally be addressed such as the low wages paid by bus companies to their drivers which causes the latter to be habitually on the rush in order to earn more commissions and the long working hours endured by
many drivers which put them in a state of fatigue and thereby affects their level of alertness while driving.


* John Chung, DAP National Publicity Bureau Assistant Secretary