SERDANG: The government may arrange for express bus drivers to go back to driving school to change their driving attitude, following a series of fatal express bus accidents over the years.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri said her department will also organise a lab with the public transport stakeholders scheduled to be held next month.
“We want to come up with decisions that will raise the standards of express bus drivers,” she said after a briefing by Prasarana officials at the RapidKL depot in Balakong, where she was shown the company’s training facilities and services.
She said Prasarana has a school bus academy that could be used by bus operators to train drivers. It could be used to train youths to become bus drivers as the present ones are in their 50s and 60s, she said.
Nancy added some of the express bus drivers should be at home resting but are driving to earn extra money.
“Bus operators, on the other hand, employ them because there are no applications from younger drivers,” she said.
Youths were not interested in becoming bus drivers as it was very costly to get a licence, she pointed out. Due to that, the lab which is expected to be held for a month would have brainstorming sessions to end the problem.
“Perhaps the government could pay for the licence fee. It is a proposal and decisions will be made after the lab is over,” she said.
Another issue was on installing speed monitoring devices in express buses to curb speeding problems which has become one of the main reasons for fatal bus crashes over the years.
Nancy said she understands that the devices are expensive but it was also crucial in saving lives.
“We want to discuss with stakeholders on achieving the highest standards of driving without having to incur expense. But people’s life are also at stake. We have to discuss on ways to achieve the highest standards,” she added.
Another issue that will be discussed is the express bus fare.
“The government is currently controlling the fare but it could be restricting the bus operators’ business. That is another area that will be looked at,” Nancy said.
The decision will then be brought to the cabinet, and following that Nancy hopes to raise the issue in the Dewan Rakyat in March this year.
On Christmas eve, an express bus plunged into a six-metre-deep ravine 137km of the North-South Highway near Jalan Kangkar Senangah, Pagoh killing 17 people and injuring 15.
An infant and the driver of the bus were among those killed in the incident which happened at about 3.30am. The bus was travelling from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur after having left Larkin Bus Station, JB, at 2am.
Despite road safety campaigns carried out by the transport ministry, Malaysia loses almost 7,000 lives from road accidents every year.
Statistics from the transport ministry’s road safety department shows that 8% of accidents are due to human error. This includes drivers not checking blind spots frequently, not using signal lights before turning or changing lanes, not switching on the headlights when visibility is poor, not wearing seat belts, beating red lights, and the illegal use of emergency lanes. -FMT