Johor bus crash: Seat belts on buses can save lives

Johor bus crash: Seat belts on buses can save lives
PHOTO: The Star

Wearing a seat belt on express buses could save the lives of passengers, say experts here in response to calls in Malaysia to make them compulsory.

This follows the horrific accident in which a Kuala Lumpur-bound express coach from Johor Baru crashed into a ravine on the North-South Expressway near Muar, Johor, in the early hours of Saturday, killing 14 people, including three Singaporeans and a Singapore permanent resident.

Mr Azman Ujang, chairman of Malaysian national news agency Bernama, then suggested banning express buses from travelling during "sleepy hours" and making seat belts mandatory for passengers as measures to prevent similar road accidents.

Welcoming the proposals, Malaysia's Road Transport Department director-general Nadzri Siron suggested bus operators could take the initiative and install seat belts for passengers.

But he said operators and consumers were against previous proposals to ban night-time express buses.

Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay told The New Paper that making seat belts mandatory in express buses was a "good idea" and could save many lives in an accident.

"When there is an impact, the seat belts can prevent passengers from hitting hard objects or being flung," he said.

14 on KL-Johor bus die in Christmas Eve crash

  • Open gallery

    Burial of Nur Hazimah Binte Mustafa, 21, together with her mother Faridah Binte Tamron (not in picture), 63.

  • Open gallery

    More than 100 relatives of three Singaporean women who died gathered at the Choa Chu Kang Muslim cemetery.

  • Open gallery

    About 70 of their relatives, including Madam Faridah's son and another daughter, gathered under a scorching sun at around 1pm.

  • Open gallery

    Top to bottom: Hamimah Binte Mammu, Faridah Binte Tamron, Nur Hazimah Binte Mustafa.

  • Open gallery

    Sons and relatives of Mdm Hamimah Binte Mammu praying after burial.

  • Open gallery

    Sons and relatives of Mdm Hamimah Binte Mammu praying after burial.

  • Open gallery

    Three schoolmates of Nur Hazimah Binte Mustafa who were there to pray for their departed friend.

  • Open gallery

    13 people including the bus driver were killed and 17 others injured when the express bus they were travelling in skidded and plunged off a 6.09m cliff in Muar, Johor on Dec 24, 2016.

  • Open gallery

    Another victim was pronounced dead while receiving treatment at Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital (HPSF) in Muar.

  • Open gallery

    The incident took place at Kampung Jayo, Jalan Kangkar-Senangah, Pagoh near Muar at around 4am.

  • Open gallery

    Johor Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Mohd Yusof Mohd Gunnos said the bus was heading to Kuala Lumpur from Johor Baru.

  • Open gallery

    He said 25 firemen from the Muar, Bukit Gambit and Yong Peng stations were deployed to the location after receiving the distress call at around 4am.

  • Open gallery

    Mohd Yusof said initial investigation showed that the road surface was in good condition and it was not raining when the incident happened.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Family members of the victims at the Forensic Unit of Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital in Muar.

  • Open gallery

    Family members of the bus accident victims waiting outside the ward of Sultanah Fatimah Specialist hospital in Muar at 8.51pm on Dec 24 2016.

  • Open gallery

    The list of the dead victims at the Forensic Unit of Sultanah Fatimah Specialist hospital in Muar.

  • Open gallery

    The list of the dead victims at the Forensic Unit of Sultanah Fatimah Specialist hospital in Muar.

  • Open gallery

    The bodies of the bus driver and his child being loaded into the hearse.

  • Open gallery

    The bodies of the bus driver and his child being loaded into the hearse.

  • Open gallery

    Businessman Yusof Sabda, 54, cousin of Singaporean victim Ms Hamimah Mammu.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Steven Chong, 52, a representative of the Goldstar Exprese bus company. He said his company would help the families with the costs of bringing back the body, as well as insurance claims, but could not yet confirm whether it would be providing any other compensation to the families.

  • Open gallery

    Body of Ms Au Poi Kiew being loaded onto the hearse.

  • Open gallery

    Relatives of Ms Au Poi Kiew loading her body onto the hearse.

  • Open gallery

    Muhd Haikal Bin Syed, (right, walking out) 23, NSF, and Muhd Shamir Bin Syed, (wiping eye) 21, ITE student, both sons of Ms Hamimah Mammu after looking at the body of their mother.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Yusof, cousin of Ms Hamimah Mammu, waving at the hearse after the body of Ms Hamimah was loaded onto it.

  • Open gallery

    Relatives of Ms Hamimah Mammu hugging after the body was loaded onto the hearse.

  • Open gallery

    Entrance of Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital in Muar.

"Many studies over the years have shown that seat belts lower passenger injuries in cars, and it is the same for coaches."

Referring to the introduction of compulsory seat belts in school buses here in 2012, he said: "Even kids have to wear seat belts on the buses over short distances. You can see the importance, and this can be applied to tour buses too."

Transport engineering consultant Gopinath Menon said: "Anything that improves safety is a good idea.

"With the seat belt, chances of you getting thrown out is lower. Being restrained like that will minimise harm."

Read also: KL-Johor bus crash: Driver was speeding, cops say

But he said implementation might be challenging.

"It works for schoolchildren because it is easier to enforce, but will all buses need to have seat belts and over what distances? It opens up a spectrum of issues," said Mr Menon.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, told TNP that measures to prevent accidents could also be considered.

BEYOND SEAT BELTS

Safety features such as the lane departure warning system, which alerts drivers if they suddenly change lanes without signalling, go beyond seat belts, Mr Ang said.

He added: "Seat belts are useful if you get into a collision. But minimising accidents is just as important, and we should assess all the safety concerns."

Madam Sarina Moh, a retiree in her 70s who makes annual trips to Kuala Lumpur to visit relatives, said the accident has heightened her concerns about travelling on express buses.

She said: "I used to use them without worry, but now I would be too scared to fall asleep."

Read also: Johor bus crash: Driver only had 3 hours rest

Asked if being belted down would make her feel better, Madam Sarina said: "It won't hurt. Maybe it can encourage people to be safer on the roads."

harizbah@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 27, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.