Call to scrap two-driver rule for long bus journeys

KUALA LUMPUR - A road transport law requiring two drivers to be on long bus journeys together may be causing them to suffer from fatigue, with some operators calling for it to be removed.

"It has been found that systems in place - with the first and second drivers in the same bus throughout the journey - does not bring intended results," said a 2007 document by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros).

The Road Traffic Rules (Amend­ment) 2004 states that any driver of a goods or public service vehicle on a journey of more than four hours or 300km should have a second driver.

This driver would replace the first after every four hours or 300km.

The document entitled "Safety, Health and Environment code of practice for the Transport Sector", stated that there was a "big possibility" that the two drivers would be awake and talking to each other during a journey.

It added that the second driver would not have the same kind of rest they would have if they were at home or in a hostel.

Miros said as a result, drivers could be on the road for more than 16 hours a day.

Konsortium Transnasional Bhd executive director Tengku Hasmadi Tengku Hashim said the two-driver rule made it harder for operators to address the critical driver shortage situation.

Separately, bus operators said a government decision to have mandatory drug tests on their drivers was a waste of time.

"How are they going to know what's prohibitive or not? My driver could take cough medicine or drugs for medication, and it would show up on the test," said an operator who declined to be named.

Another who spoke on condition of anonymity said the tests would be troublesome for passengers especially during holiday seasons, as they would have to wait while authorities conduct urine tests on drivers.

Checks with the Road Transport Department revealed that operations with the National Anti-Drug Agency showed 52 bus drivers testing positive for drug abuse since 2011.

On another matter, six Etika express bus company operating vehicle permits for the Kuala Lumpur-Kuantan route will be suspended from April 25 after a crash involving one of its buses near Temerloh injured six people on April 19.