Ex-taxi driver on road safety
In reference to the Skyway accident involving a Don Mariano bus, let me offer some suggestions culled from my own experience as an FX owner/taxi driver from 1996 to 2002. I drove for 16 hours to 19 hours on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Thursdays, I would drive 24 hours to 27 hours–I repeat, 27 hours, starting at 4 a.m.; I would stop at 7 a.m. of Friday (my car’s number/color coding day). Once I drove for 28 hours because I miscalculated the travel time for my last fare for the “day.” I did this because I needed money. Twice I fell asleep while driving… Whew!
1. Equip every passenger bus with a “speed limiter.” The driver cannot watch the speedometer all the time, but this gadget will give flashing lights with sounds that can call the attention of the driver/co-driver and conductor. This will be set 3-5 kph below the speed limit, so that the driver can slow down before reaching it.
2. Subject every bus driver to a mandatory alcohol test through a “digital breathalyzer” 10 minutes before he drives out of the garage. This is a unit to determine the blood alcohol content or BAC. Normally at .04 percent above, there could be impairment in judgement that can lead to an accident. The unit should be subjected to a yearly check for accuracy, and a photo of the driver while taking the test and a printer to record the results should be calibrated to synchronize date and time.
3. The bus/taxi/truck operator should keep a computerized record of the working and resting hours of every driver. Driving for 19 hours every day for two consecutive days makes a person dull, less alert and accident-prone. We need to amend our labor laws setting the maximum allowable number of working hours and the required minimum number of rest hours.
4. All public vehicle/truck drivers should undergo a “Sleep Apnea Test” every time they renew their driver’s license. Even with enough sleep and rest, people with severe Apnea can doze off while driving.
5. All public vehicle companies should have a safety management system approved by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The system should be reviewed and undergo a performance audit every year, or suspended when an accident occurs. The system should also undergo constant review, and (if needed) amended with the LTFRB’s approval. The system should state the mission, vision, policy, customer/passenger satisfaction policy, alcohol policy, environmental policy and, most important of all, the working and resting hours policy of the company.
6. The use of recap tires should be thoroughly restudied to find out if it is 100-percent safe, otherwise it should be banned.
7. There should be a checklist signed by the driver and mechanic to ensure that the bus is in good condition and road-worthy before it leaves the garage.
8. A codriver should be assigned for trucks and buses plying long routes for the public’s greater protection.
Of course, self-discipline and a culture of safety should be inculcated in the consciousness of not only the drivers but also of pedestrians.
–CAPT. EDWIN L. FRANCO,
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