English World

Proposals for mandatory seat belt, night travel ban

KUALA LUMPUR: The express bus crash on Christmas Eve was another stark reminder of tragic incidents involving public transport during festive seasons.

Fourteen people were killed in the accident at KM137.3 of the North-South Highway at Kampung Jayor in Muar.

According to media reports, the driver of the bus, which was on its way to Kuala Lumpur from Johor Baru, lost control of the vehicle, causing it to skid and then plunged into a 10-metre deep ravine at about 3.40am. Many victims were flung out of the bus due to the impact.

Following the crash, various parties had expressed their views to reduce the fatality rate in such incident.

Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) chairman Datuk Seri Azman Ujang, in his news analysis on the incident, suggested preventive measures such as banning express buses from travelling during ‘sleepy hours’ and mandatory use of seat belts for passengers.

Road Transport Department (RTD) director-general Datuk Seri Nadzri Siron when contacted by Bernama welcomed the two proposals.

Nadzri said the measures could improve the safety system in express buses and he would discuss the proposals with the RTD communities.

However, he said the bus operators could take their own initiative by installing seat belts for passengers, even though they were still not compulsory.

On banning express buses from travelling during ‘sleepy hours’, Nadzri said it had been discussed before, but could not be implemented due to request from the industry players and consumers.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the government should expedite the establishment of a professional investigation body, known as the Public Transportation Safety Board, to investigate accidents involving public transport.

Lee, who is also a member of the Road Safety Council (MKJR), said members of the proposed board would consist of experts such as engineers, former traffic personnel and academicians.

“This independent body should be staffed by professionals who can give opinions, ideas and solutions directly to the Parliament,” he said.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said the proposal to ban express buses from travelling during night time needed a thorough study before it could be implemented.

He said discussions between government representatives, industry players, experts in related fields, as well as express bus users, should be held to protect the interests of all parties.

“Just like the installation of seat belts for passengers, most new buses already have them, but how can the bus operators make sure the passengers put them on throughout the journey?” he asked.

Mohamad Ashfar said if the proposed mandatory installation of seat belts came true, a special law should also be formulated to ensure passengers would use the safety equipment.

Peninsular Malaysia Malay Express Bus Operators Association deputy president Tajudin Mohd Yunus said the proposal to discontinue bus service at night was not in line with users’ demand.

He said most passengers preferred to use bus service at night, especially for long journey such as from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Bharu and Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar.

“On bus travelling during ‘sleepy hours’, it is about the fitness of the driver and it is the responsibility of the operators to provide a safe and efficient service for their passengers,” he said. – Bernama

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