We are saddened to hear of the tragic events which occurred early on Christmas Eve morning. There were 14 people who were unfortunately killed in an accident at Km 137.3 of the highway at Kampung Jayor in Muar, Johor.
According to media reports, the driver of the bus lost control of the vehicle and this caused it to skid off the road, plunging into a 10-metre deep ravine around 3:40am.
This accident follows one which occurred in July of 2016, where the driver of a tour bus was killed and 25 passengers, all tourists from China, were able to survive after the vehicle skidded and overturned at KM17.2 on Jalan Genting Highlands – Kuala Lumpur in the westbound direction.
We are in strong support of having Road Transport Department [RTD] of Malaysia setting up an independent study regarding these tragedies. Accidents will occur, but RTD must look into preventive measures to keep accidents such as these from occurring. Such an investigation would hopefully produce comprehensive results without bias so that everyone could agree on the future steps that need to be taken to ensure the safety of everyone.
As frequent travelers to Malaysia for our weekend hikes, it is important for us as organisers and participants to ask questions of our bus operators. With our safety at stake and potentially lives on the line, here are the questions we propose asking every operator.
#1. What is the criteria in place for hiring drivers and is there a minimum number of training hours required before they are allowed on the road?
#2. How are speed limit safety measures enforced on all coaches and what happens if a driver is in breach of them?
#3. If a journey is over 300km, are there backup drivers available?
#4. What monitoring program is in place to ensure that drivers are obtaining an adequate amount of rest between each journey?
#5. What is the age and status of the maintenance log for the coach being used?
#6. Are stops built into the itinerary of long-distance journeys to ensure drivers and passengers receive an adequate amount of rest?
#7. Are coaches equipped with satellite or remote tracking and, if so, what is done with this data?
How We Choose Transportation Providers
Through Adventures Unlimited, we make sure to hire reputable companies with a good record of safety throughout their history. Pricing is important, but we have often discovered that you get what you pay for in terms of quality transportation.
We also ensure that the company chosen is able to track the speed and location of every bus in their fleet. This includes having seat belts in place for each passenger.
We’re also working with companies to lobby for CCTV installations at the front of each bus to ensure monitoring of the driver at their current state.
We also focus on these key points:
- We have the contact information of company executives in addition to the driver in case there is an emergency. A Next of Kin (NOK) list of participants is insisted upon before being allowed to join us for any trips.
- Either the trip leader or an appointed safety officer sits in the front row on every trip to monitor the driver’s condition. If the distance is greater than 300 kilometers, then two safety officers are appointed. We tell drivers to not use their cellular device and drive at the same time and encourage team leads and safety officers to chat with the driver to maintain alertness.
- We let the passengers know that safety belts are encouraged throughout the entire journey and conduct a personal inspection of the equipment before embarking on the road. Each passenger is encouraged to make their own safety belt inspection as well and report any findings to the team leaders or safety officers which makes them feel uncomfortable.
We also highly recommend participants purchasing personal travel insurance before their trips. Adventures Unlimited is currently in the process of obtaining and comparing quotes for group travel insurance which covers all trips out of the country. Look for an announcement on pricing and policies at a future date.
Tragedies strike at the very heart of where we are. If a tragedy can be prevented through enhanced safety measures and meaningful policies and procedures, then these actions must be taken. This way we can all have confidence that we’ll arrive safely at our intended destination.
Thank you for your attention,
in consultation with
Adventure Unlimited event hosts
TS Chua, Singapore Adventurous Nature Lover meetup group
Merry Holidays Sdn.Bhd
Gawry Tour and Trans Sdn Bhd