Action urged on bus seat belts

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2008, 12:00am

Passengers should not be allowed to sit in the front seats on the top deck of double-decker buses that are too old to be fitted with seat belts, a political party said yesterday.

It made the suggestion in response to a survey that found eight out of 10 bus passengers would be happy to buckle up if seat belts were provided on public buses.

Chan Hok-fung, transport affairs spokesman for the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which carried out the survey, said it was surprising so many respondents said they would definitely or occasionally wear seat belts. He said the government should speed up the installing of seat belts in double-deckers.

Last week, the government said seat belts could not be fitted on buses built before 1997. It expected that between 2012 and 2015, operators would replace these older vehicles with new models equipped with seat belts.

But Mr Chan said: 'Traffic accidents will keep happening. The government should not put forward this excuse.' He said it should consider temporary measures, such as installing railings or preventing the use of 'high-risk' seats, such as those at the front of upper decks.

Other parties and pressure groups have urged similar action following a crash between double-decker buses in Tseung Kwan O last month in which two women were thrown to their deaths from front-row seats on the upper deck of a bus.

Of 1,532 bus passengers the DAB polled, 39.6 per cent said they would definitely wear seat belts on buses, and 40.8 per cent said they would do so occasionally. Only 14.2 per cent said they would not wear them.

The DAB also polled 213 bus drivers, of whom 56.8 per cent said they got insufficient rest time. Thirty per cent admitted they were sometimes guilty of speeding and missing stops to keep to timetables, with 3.8 per cent saying they often did so.

'They are facing huge stresses from tight schedules, complicated road conditions, and a lack of rest time,' Mr Chan said.

The law requires bus drivers to have at least nine hours off between shifts. Mr Chan said that may not be enough.

The party will urge bus companies to recruit more drivers and give staff more time off between shifts.