Wed, Sep 13, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Six killed, 11 injured in freeway accident

REGULATION REVIEW:After a second deadly freeway bus accident this year, the Department of Railways and Highways is calling for compulsory seat belt regulations

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Investigators in Kaohsiung yesterday examine an Aloha Bus Co vehicle after it crashed into a barrier on Monday night.

Photo: Huang Chia-lin, Taipei Times

An Aloha Bus Co (阿羅哈客運) bus on Monday night crashed on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway (Freeway No. 1) after hitting the median divider after passing Kaohsiung’s Gangshan District (岡山), killing six people and injuring 11.

It was the second major freeway accident this year. In February, a tour bus accident on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5) killed 33 people after the bus overturned and fell down an embankment.

Freeway surveillance footage showed that the Aloha bus veered into the median divider, which shattered windows on the left-hand side of the bus and dented the body.

Passengers were thrown from the bus on impact and were killed, investigators said.

Dash camera footage showed that the bus which departed Kaohsiung bound for Taipei traveled at about 100kph for most of the trip.

The bus company said that the driver, surnamed Wu (吳), was given 19 hours off work before reporting for duty on Monday night.

Wu also sustained head injuries in the crash.

Wu told the bus company that he veered to the left to avoid a small truck that did not have its tail lights on.

However, the bus hit the gantry of an electronic toll collection system on the median divider, breaking the bus windows, he said.

Wu tried to correct the vehicle by steering to the right, which might have thrown some of the passengers from the bus, the company said.

Prosecutors are examining investigators’ reports and witnesses’ statements to determine the cause of the accident.

Department of Railways and Highways Deputy Director-General Chang Shun-ching (張舜清) said that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in February proposed amending the Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act (道路交通管理處罰條例) and the Transportation Management Regulations (汽車運輸業管理規則) to require bus passengers to wear seat belts.

The Road Traffic Management and Penalty Act only requires passengers sitting in certain seats to wear seat belts, including next to the driver, in the front row and behind the exit doors in the middle and the back of the bus, as well as the middle seat in the back row, Chang said.

“Japan and the EU require all bus passengers to wear seat belts when traveling on highways, freeways or expressways. We have discussed such a proposal with agencies and they have reached a consensus to amend the law,” he said.

However, the amendment would have to secure Executive Yuan and lawmakers’ approval, he said, adding that the ministry would discuss the issue with legislators in the hope that the regulations could be enforced before the end of the year.

Directorate-General of Highways chief secretary Lin Fu-shan (林福山) said that bus drivers are required to ensure passengers are wearing their seat belts before they drive and the agency would increase inspections over the Double Ten National Day long weekend next month.

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