Tour bus accidents spur stricter inspection rules
By Ann Yu, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Consumers' Foundation (CF) yesterday raised awareness about tour bus inspection safety to the government following a string of bus accidents last December.
January 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Three separate tour bus accidents last December left 50 people injured and shook Taiwan society, leading many to question local bus safety measures. One major accident occurred in Hsinchu County's Qalang Smangus (司馬庫斯), where a mid-size bus carrying 22 passengers rolled off a cliff, killing 13.
Professor Su Jau-ming (蘇昭銘) from Chung Hua University's Department of Transportation Technology and Logistics Management said that Taiwan did not have a complete inspection system for tour buses, or concrete policy guidelines in training the drivers.
For instance, he said, Taiwan's transportation laws suggest but do not require that tour buses install digital dashboard recorders, which help record drivers' driving habits for later review. Additionally, Su stressed the importance of keeping a driving journal or other written driving records, which are seldom insisted upon by bus companies. “In this way, the driver can develop the habit of reviewing his entire day, making it easier for him to detect fatigue or stress,” Su said.
The CF also pointed out what it called inadequate training for tour bus drivers, citing transportation laws. According to the Road Traffic Safety Regulations (道路交通安全規則), those who have had a license to drive a truck for at least a year will be eligible to apply as tour bus drivers. “Being a truck driver is very different from being a bus driver,” Su said. “A bus driver bears the responsibility of more than 20 people's lives.”
He suggested that bus companies or the government should strengthen the program to better train bus drivers.
Su also spoke about the poor condition of some busses and low inspection thresholds. He explained that since busses are mostly imported and highly expensive, auto companies tend to assemble buses or buy cheaper, older ones. He explained that both methods might be somewhat risky, although no one is certain as of yet that accidents are directly connected to the ages of vehicles. “In terms of safety, there should be no room for compromise,” he added.