Exacting standards

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Sunday, February 23, 2014


There have been too many public bus crashes of late that these accidents can no longer be called isolated.

The riding public now has to face the horror of this scenario becoming the norm.

It’s sad when we have to wait for incidents of injuries as well as loss of lives to hog the headlines before we are moved to pay attention as well as to take action.

The public has been largely complacent in pushing for stricter measures to regulate the industry as well as to penalize erring bus companies. Hence, the poor state of our bus transit system. But there is much we can do.

The vehicles. First and foremost, all public buses plying our roads should be roadworthy.

Public transport should be subjected to more stringent inspection procedures for roadworthiness than private vehicles as they carry the riding public.

There should be a limit to the number of years a public bus should ply the roads.

Beyond that limit in useful years, the vehicle should be retired for the safety of the riding public.

Periodic inspections must be made by regulatory agencies to ensure that public transport is in top shape.

We can no longer ignore the number of cases wherein brakes fail on the road causing catastrophic consequences.

The drivers. Ultimately, the safety of passenger lives rests with the drivers.

It is therefore imperative that drivers are competent, free from alcohol or substance abuse, physically fit, mentally sound as well as sufficiently rested so they can safely drive passengers to their destinations.

We should hold our drivers to the same exacting standards that we should subject the roadworthiness of our public transport. There is no room for complacence where lives are concerned.

In a country where it is not certain how a person might have gotten hold of a driver’s license, it is essential for public bus drivers to be trained on road safety, traffic rules and regulations as well as professionalism.

An essential requirement for anyone wishing to work as a public bus driver should also be actual driving experience as well as a pristine record of road safety.

The management. Management and/or owners of public transport companies should be mandated to maintain high standards for their vehicles as well as stringent requirements for their drivers. Non-compliance should result into heavy penalties.

The government. Regulatory agencies should do their job. They should regulate, enforce and penalize with conviction and consistency.

There should be a limit to the number of hours a bus driver can drive within a 24-hour period without prejudice to his right to rest periods. Drivers should not have their daily earnings pegged on the number of trips made causing them to drive at breakneck speeds simply to stretch their daily earnings. Drivers should be paid a daily wage. And this should not be a choice.

Erring bus drivers should have their licenses suspended or revoked as the case deems fit. Erring bus companies should be heavily penalized for gross violations that put the lives of both drivers and passengers at risk.

At the end of the day, if we want public safety to prevail, we have to maintain exacting standards.

(email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com, Twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 23, 2014.

Opinion

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