Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Control Yuan 2014 report cited as bus accident examined

By Lin Liang-sheng and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Questions arose regarding a two-year-old Control Yuan report that raised issues concerning charter buses and drivers after a bus accident in Taipei on Monday night killed 33 people and injured 11.

The crash occurred at about 9pm, when the bus was traveling in the slow lane of a freeway offramp connecting the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (National Freeway No. 5) to the southbound lanes on the Formosa Freeway (National Freeway No. 3) in Nangang District (南港).

Accidents involving tour buses in recent years prompted the Control Yuan in 2014 to conduct an investigation.

The report, released in July of that year, said that drivers were generally advanced in age, their salaries were too low and bus chassis were unsafe.

In the majority of major accidents involving charter buses, the bodies of the vehicles broke apart, the report said.

Manufacturing processes and the safety of buses needs studying, it said.

The Control Yuan cited National Police Agency statistics from 2003 to 2013 that showed 98.61 percent of incidents involving charter buses were due to driver error, while vehicle problems caused the remainder.

A separate report investigating charter bus operations conducted in 2008 by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications found that driver inexperience was the leading cause of accidents.

The ministry report found that drivers were unfamiliar with road conditions, were insufficiently alert while operating buses, exceeded safe speeds while driving on mountain roads and failed to clearly indicate their intentions to other drivers.

The report also found that buses were past their safe operation dates, had poorly working brakes and had fittings not installed by the manufacturer.

A second report by the ministry in November 2012 following an investigation into charter bus operations found that the average age of bus drivers in 2011 was 48.8, up from 44.2 in 2005, while their average salary was NT$22,900.

Monthly bonuses and other income gave drivers an average additional NT$14,600, the second report said.

The Control Yuan said that imported and domestically produced buses manufactured before December 2012 with bodies mounted on the chassis accounted for 88.7 percent of charter buses in use in the nation.

The safety of buses manufactured using this process has been called into question after they were found to break apart in collisions, the Control Yuan said.

The Directorate-General of Highways should lower speed limits and enforce them more stringently on roads deemed susceptible to traffic accidents, the Control Yuan said in its report, adding that safety equipment should be put in place on roads and charter vehicles to improve public safety.

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