Wed, Jul 04, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Bus driver fatigue causes accidents, legislator says

LONG HAUL:DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu said bus drivers have a basic monthly salary of less than NT$14,000, forcing them to work overtime and drive while fatigued

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

The prevalent practice of overworking has caused many bus accidents due to fatigue and has placed passengers’ lives at risk, a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker said yesterday.

At least 17 bus accidents related to fatigued driving, which caused 25 deaths and 166 injuries, occurred between 2003 and this year throughout the nation, DPP Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) told a press conference yesterday, according to her own calculations.

According to statistics provided by the Directorate-General of Highways, Yu said nine bus accidents in the past decade were related to fatigued driving.

“This is a structural problem. It’s not that those bus drivers wanted to drive while fatigued and put passengers’ lives in jeopardy,” she said.

The drivers’ fatigue came from overworking, Yu added, as she cited the example of Taipei, where bus service companies have allegedly been exploiting drivers for years.

In the Greater Taipei area, a bus driver has to work 13 hours a day on average if there was no one assigned to share his duty, the lawmaker cited information provided by an unidentified bus driver as saying.

If two drivers are assigned to a bus, each of them has to work 10.5 hours a day, Yu said, adding that the drivers have a basic salary of between NT$5,000 and NT$14,000 a month and have to work overtime to earn more.

Data provided by Taipei City Public Transportation Office showed that the average number of personnel per bus last year was 1.27.

However, bus service providers were not punished by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) or local authorities as the average fine for overworking violations went from NT$71,695 in 2010 to only NT$27,059 this year, Yu said.

The light punishment explained why service providers continued violations, Taipei City Councilor Lee Kun-cheng (李坤城) said.

The CLA and the Ministry of Transportation and Communication should conduct labor inspections and include the results in considerations for license renewal, National Federation of Independent Trade Unions executive director Chu Wei-li (朱維立) said.

The CLA carries out two labor inspections on highway bus services every year and those who violate regulations are reinspected after three months, Department of Labor Standards section chief Huang Wei-chen (黃維琛) said, adding that local governments could carry out inspections as well.

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