Seat belts and 'sleepy hour' ban, Malaysia mulls tight norms to ensure bus safety

Bernama news agency chairman proposed to introduced seat belts in all buses

18 retirees killed as tour bus plunges into deep ravine in Thailand
Representational Image Reuters

Following the tragic North-South Highway bus accident that killed 14 people, experts are urging the government to take up some serious safety measures to avoid such mishaps in the future.

Bernama news agency chairman Azman Ujang said that implementation of specified service hours will be beneficial. It is reported that he suggested all express buses, which tends to run faster than normal buses, should be banned from travelling at night or during 'sleepy hours'. He also said seat belts should be made mandatory for all passengers in the buses.

While the director general of Road Transport Department (RTD), Nadzri Siron, appreciated the new's agency's proposal, he discussed why few of them will not be possible.

New proposals

Channel News Asia reported that Nadzri accepted that safety standards of the buses need to improve and that he would take up the matter with the RTD communities. He also said that the bus operators have to take initiative on their own to install seat belts, which is otherwise not compulsory.

Why they cannot be implemented

However, he dismissed the ban on 'sleepy hours' travelling by saying that the issue has been discussed before. According to Nadzri, demand from industry players and consumers will not allow the implementation of the proposal. Moreover, Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Mohamad Ashfar Ali that government needs to thoroughly study the consequences of night travel ban before it is implemented.

Also read: 14 die as bus falls into gorge in pre-dawn accident in Johor; casualties include foreigners

Also, Peninsular Malaysia Malay Express Bus Operators Association deputy president Tajudin Mohd Yunus said that passengers prefer to use night bus service at night, especially while travelling long distances like between cities and districts. "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.

Professional investigation body for accidents

Meanwhile, it was also reported that Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) chairman Lee Lam Thye has come up with another proposal. He urges the government to set up a professional investigation body consisting of engineers, former traffic personnel and academics, known as the Public Transportation Safety Board, to investigate accidents involving public transport, reported the news agency.

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

The North-South Highway accident took place around 3:40 am local time, when the Alisan Golden Coach Express bus, skidded, lost balance and fell into the six-metre deep ravine on the North-South Highway near Jalan Kangkar Senangah Pagoh, reported the Johor Fire and Rescue Service. The bus carrying 30 passengers was travelling from Johor Baru to Kuala Lumpur.