Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Loads of people call me crazy for driving back to KL from Hicktown every weekend. They tell me I should take the bus - its cheaper and not so tiring. Yes, I say, but I trust myself more than I trust the bus drivers.

Another day, another bus accident. Another pile up of body bags. Another aftermath to keep people occupied with, until another set of jet engines (or missile launchers) go missing.

People keep talking about the bus driver being sleepy. Today, he claimed trial to reckless driving, after admitting that he fell asleep at the wheel. Then you have silly politicians wanting to ban night buses, while forgetting that people can fall asleep during the day too. We also have people talking about special licenses to drive double decker buses and all that hoolah.

This job has thought me many things, especially when it comes to pinning the root cause to a problem. Major industrial accidents of recent time (which I am familiar with anyway) never pointed the blame to one individual. The 2 operators who caused the BP Texas City explosion never went to jail or got fined. And certainly, it was Exxon that bore the brunt of the lawsuits and penalties in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, not the tired third mate and the drunk ship master.

Tragedies occur because of a sequence of events. They occur because of the lack of safeguarding measures that should be in place. Yes, they are often triggered by people earning $5 an hour, but this doesn't mean the blame should fall on their shoulders. The fact that he is paid $5 an hour is testament enough to his skill and competency, hence why should it surprise anyone when this guy inadvertently sets the barn on fire? He certainly didn't put all the hay in the barn, nor did he make the barn out of wood, so if anything he is as much of a victim because he has to live with the guilt of killing all those people anyway.

More pertinent questions here are:

1. Why was he tired? Has he been overworked? Why is he overworked? How many hours had he been driving? Is there an enforcement on how many hours a bus driver is allowed to drive in a day?

2. What was his co-driver doing? Sleeping, we presume? If he felt sleepy, why didn't he tell his co-driver who should have then kept him company by chatting about random things?

3. It is easy to ask him to rest, but if he had pulled over to sleep, and if the bus arrived at the destination late, would he have been in trouble with his bosses for delaying the next trip? Does the bus company, or in fact, do any of the bus companies have policies pertaining to this? What would happen to a bus driver if he frequently arrived late because he frequently pulled over to take a nap? Would he be in trouble with his bosses? Or do they encourage him to pull over and take a nap? Why has NOBODY asked this question?

4. Why is there no outrage (not even from Malaysiakini!!!?!) towards the lawmakers? Why are the Ministry of Transport allowed to go scot free in all these accidents? Why are they not passing laws or coming up with proper procedures to mitigate future accidents?

The problem with blaming the bus driver is that you can put him in jail and think, "Ah, that's it then. He won't be around to kill anymore people." But we forget that a few months from now, someone else WILL fall asleep at the wheel again.

And we put him in jail. And another. And another...

We rewind, and press play. We keep looping the tape over, and over, and over again....till when?

Post publication entry (3 Dec 2010):

5 days after I wrote the above, The Sunday Star did a center spread on this issue. In the past few days, I have been reading the Letters to Editors section of a few newspapers. Still, nobody has raised the question I did about point number (3).

The Sunday Star article had 2 short paragraphs briefly talking about it:
Farhan Zainal* has just returned from the Road Transport Department (RTD) to explain why his bus had arrived late at the station by 20 minutes.

"A passenger lodged a complaint," he says. "If you are fast, then you’re good. If you’re slow, they say the bus is like a kereta lembu (bullock cart)."

I think this is outrageous!! Why does the bus driver report to the RTD on why he is late? Is this the main reason why drivers are reluctant to take a break even though they are sleepy?

Still all the unasnwered questions...

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haven't had time to read the letters and opinions in the papers but surely someone must have written in with those questions? after all, it's clear to any thinking person that it is never completely the bus driver's fault. every mistake is a culmination of factors and it'd be foolish to assume otherwise.

i have stopped taking the bus whenever i visit the red dot since i decided that safety meant more than saving a couple of bucks. my parents sleep better with me on a train and i hope to keep it that way.

hope your exam went well, btw. happy new year!


looking forward to more posts from u vincent..

And here I thought you were done with posting 'profound' thoughts here..

KJ: You've known me for like...10 years now?

Were you under the impression that an egomaniac narcissist like myself would ever give up and telling everybody what 'profound thoughts' I have?


i think every driver has the responsibility to keep their lives and other lives SAFE. if you are not in the RIGHT condition, don't drive as you are not only putting your life at risk as well as threaten others.
i saw a car driving in a zigzag motion on christmas eve. it is so dangerous and none of the car dared to overtake that car and get close to it.
the problem lies in mind. they are not taking serious of other lives. they didn't aware that people put their lives onto THEM.


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