I caught a discussion on RTM1 this morning when a JPJ official showed a diagram of a bus constructed in Russia where the the frame of the bus is constructed so that the roof structure is welded to the chassis at the bottom of the bus.
I believe in Malaysia the majority of buses have a bare chassis that we sometimes see being driven on the highways with the driver exposed to the elements and this can be built up as a lorry or bus according to the buyer's needs.
This means that any framework added on as for a bus cannot be very strong and in most bus accidents, the top half where the passengers are sitting is easily crumpled or even sheared off.
If you are secured with a seat belt that may increase your chance of being decapitated as you may be in an upright position. So a seat belt may save you from being thrown out but it may just position you in a dangerous position when the roof is sheared off.
The long term solution to make express buses safer is the following:
1.Start a program to remove all poorly designed express buses from the roads within the next 5 years.
2.Grant tax incentives to bus companies to buy safe buses.
3.Reduce speed limits for substandard buses by 20kph on highways.
4.Government program to buy substandard express buses to allocate to cities like JB where all buses over 15 years old should be scrapped.
There was a comparison made between air pilots and bus drivers and the following should be part of the comparison.
Air pilots have strict terms of employment but bus drivers freelance.
A pilot takes care of about 350 passengers whereas a bus driver may have about 40.
Pilots have strong unions to care for them while a bus driver is basically a single contractor.
We should expect improvements in bus travel but in the meantime I will suggest you to avoid travelling in any express bus after 11pm.
Photo: Thanks to the Star