The news recently reported that, The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS) stated that the double decker bus is not safe for long distance travelling and also for travelling on hilly and winding roads. This could be the result of the finding of the tragedy near Simpang Pulai last year where a double decker bus carrying tourists from Thailand crashed and 27 people died. I am not sure what sort of research MIROS have done to come to that conclusion or the news agency is not fully reporting the quote from MIROS. The double decker bus have been used all over the world for decades either for long distance travelling or as intra city and rural buses. I used to take the Lincolnshire double decker bus from Nottingham to Loghborough in the 80s. The route pass through the rural villages and winding roads as well as hilly areas. I used to sit on the top deck and normally right in the front row on top of the driver. It always amazed me how these buses can go through the tight corners and the hilly areas. Of course they traveled at a speed way below the permissible limit and the drivers were fully trained, highly responsible and truly understand the need for care and courteousness in driving that sort of buses. The road surface were also well maintained with adequate signages.
With modern technology the safety features of these buses have improved tremndously over the years.
Statistics did not show preference for double dcker bus to accidents. From my readings, road safety is not merely about banning double decker buses in long distance travel but more about other things such as the drivers experience, skills, safety features on the bus, road condition, condition of the buses and enforcement from the authorities. Yamin Vong said road accidents are rarely accidents but preventable events or at least mishaps that can be minimised if everybody plays his/her part.
In this country most double decker bus accidents were brought about by reckless drivers, poorly maintained buses, terrible road conditions and attitudes of other drivers on the roads. Add poor and selective enforcement to that concoction you really have a hell of a recipe for disasters. Distance traveled by the double decker buses has very little to do with it. For the Simpang Pulai tragedy, it was reported that the buses was not properly built as a fully fledged double decker bus – hence its safety was compromised. Mind you the road to Genting Highland is treacherous even for normal cars let alone for the highly gravity sensitive double decker buses.
So now the Transport Ministry will come out with a directive to ban double decker buses? What would be the reaction of the already ailing express and stage bus industry? Or shall we go back to the BMW (Bas mini wilayah) days. Remember those pink delights with the famous battle cries “masuk dalam lagi bang!, masuk dalam lagi! ” “Oi, lajulah sikit orang nak makan pun tak boleh ke!”