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Road safety: Inconvenience is a necessary evil

November 9, 2017

Writer says implementing tighter regulations for express bus drivers, including use of tachograph for monitoring their driving, may be inconvenient but necessary.

COMMENT

driver-bus-express-card-malaysia-1By TK Chua

It is a good idea to mandate the issuance of “driver cards” to express bus drivers to ensure better passenger safety during travel.

According to the proposal announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri, potential drivers will be subjected to screening, which includes background checks, drug use and health status, before the cards are issued to them.

All commercial vehicle drivers, including express bus drivers, have an important role to play in road safety. For far too long we have ignored fatal road accidents at our own peril.

Any new regulation would probably cause inconvenience and increase the cost of doing business. But this is a necessary “evil” for the greater good of all.

Businessmen in Malaysia must learn to make less profit in exchange for better road safety for all.

If practices in developed countries are used as an example, I think Malaysia must go beyond issuing “driver cards”.

One of the main causes of road accidents is driver fatigue. It is time that express bus drivers are held to strict rules on the number of hours they can work per week and per day.

In addition, after a driving period of no more than 4.5 hours, for example, a driver must take a mandatory break of at least 45 minutes.

The best is to mandate all new commercial vehicles to be fitted with a digital “tachograph”.

A tachograph is mounted on the vehicle’s gearbox to record the bus’ activities, such as distance travelled, speed and driving time, as well as the driver’s rest period.

The system saves enforcement time and effort on the road. The regulating authorities just need to check the tachograph periodically or when the vehicle comes up for inspection.

Strict penalties can be imposed based on violations shown in the tachograph. Of course, the system must be calibrated to ensure it is foolproof.

Without exception, all drivers and passengers must wear seat belts. There should be specially “adapted” seat belts for younger children, too.

Whenever possible, express buses should not operate late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Studies in developed countries show that most accidents involve driving throughout the night.

There will be inconveniences when we impose more safety regulations. But this is for the greater good of all.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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