Malaysiakini Letter

Bus safety also depends on passengers

YS Chan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

Whenever passengers are injured or killed in bus accidents, fingers will be pointed at the driver, operator or authorities, but never on passengers.

Similarly, taxi drivers and companies were blamed for poor taxi services, without realising that passengers did not stand their ground and had allowed taxi drivers to dictate terms.

Public transport is a clear reflection of our society. On one hand are the operators, the other hand passengers, and it takes two hands to clap.

If passengers continue to patronise sub-standard services, it will only ensure that these businesses will continue to thrive.

At Chinese wedding dinners, it is customary to have a free flow of alcoholic drinks, which many guests will take advantage and drink to their hearts’ content.

Many of those drunk may be driving passengers home, including family members, but few would pay for a car jockey to drive or take a taxi home. But anyone finding a drunken taxi driver would not get into his cab.

Alarmingly, large numbers of passenger in private cars do not belt up, especially those on the rear seats, and children are often found standing between the dashboard and front passenger.

They could easily die in a minor collision from a broken neck when the dashboard airbag is triggered to inflate within a split second.

In many countries, baby seats are compulsory for infants and toddlers. When this becomes law in Malaysia, prices of baby seats will come down considerably and it would encourage local manufacture.

The best way to promote safety in this country is to ensure drivers and passengers of ALL motor vehicles to wear safety belts or helmets without exception. Why should truck drivers be exempted, more so when safety belts are already installed?

As long as this is not done, safety first will just remain a slogan, and a clear indicator of our lackadaisical attitude towards road safety.

While the latest technology is equipping vehicles with camera and radar sensors and using algorithms to detect objects and the safe path forward with over 99 percent accuracy, we are still grappling with caveman issues.

The public often complained of speeding express buses without realising that passengers often put pressure on the driver to reach a destination fast. Many people travelling to Singapore by bus hope to reach there in time for their lunch.

Passengers are an impatient lot. There were 53 passengers in a bus meant for 44 that crashed into a Genting ravine, killing 37 and injuring 16 others. The casualties would have been less or the accident might not have occurred if the passengers and driver were not in a hurry.

Whenever passengers notice a bus driver is driving recklessly or is sleepy, they should approach the driver and speak to him respectively, without waiting for others, as every second counts.

During my trip to Bukit Gambang last December, a passenger seated behind the driver did that and earned my respect, and we returned to Kuala Lumpur safely.

Express bus passengers should provide feedbacks to the bus company and authorities, so that drivers that are praised be recognised or rewarded, and those who are a danger to passengers and other road users should be rehabilitated.

But if passengers feel it is too much trouble, then it will remain status quo, with no improvements or progress to be made, except for another round of finger-pointing when another tragedy strikes.

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