Know your rights well

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 1994, 12:00am

SIX years after an accident which left her in incessant pain and permanently unable to work, Cheung Chuen, now 60, has finally been awarded damages of $450,000 against the Kowloon Motor Bus Company. Ms Cheung was not knocked down by a bus or caught ina road accident as one might have surmised from the seriousness of her injuries. She was injured inside a bus, because of negligent driving.

Any regular passenger on the territory's buses will have hair-raising tales to tell of cuts, sprains and bruises caused by jerky, careless driving. Every day, small children and elderly people are thrown to the floor because buses move off suddenly before they can reach their seats.

On narrow, winding roads, drivers hurl their buses into bends, throwing passengers against each other or against the seats and stairs.

The bus companies should take the compensation paid to Ms Cheung as a warning to improve driver training and remind their staff that passenger safety is more important than setting new speed records. Drivers who treat their buses like rally cars should be disciplined and sent for retraining.

But the case is also a reminder that the public need not be helpless in the face of negligence by faceless companies and organisations. We should all know our rights. Bad driving is only one of the avoidable menaces we face every day. There is always a negligent company, government department or individual responsible for unmarked holes in pavements, falling construction materials, dangerous goods and many other hazards.

If more people sued, Hong Kong would very soon become a safer place to live and work for all of us.