Unfit bus drivers whose health is not properly monitored are a 'time bomb' on the streets, a road safety watchdog warned after a fatal crash in which a driver fainted at the wheel.
The Road Safety Council made the warning yesterday after a woman was killed and five others injured when a double-decker ran out of control and rammed into a bus stop in Tuen Mun.
The driver of the bus, who was arrested for dangerous driving, suffers from high blood pressure.
While he received an annual medical check in September, as all drivers aged 50 or above on franchised bus routes must, drivers of minibuses and taxis had no such requirement, said Hung Wing-tat, a member of the council's research committee. He said the government should step up surveillance of the health of drivers.
Research has shown that professional bus drivers are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A study by the Occupational Safety and Health Council last year showed that up to 30 per cent of franchise bus drivers who reported chronic health issues suffered from high blood pressure, while a further 5 per cent suffered from heart disease.
A spokeswoman for Kowloon Motor Bus, owner of the double-decker, said the driver, who had been with KMB for 23 years, had a blackout. 'On Lung Mun Road, the bus captain fainted,' she said, adding the driver passed the annual health check last September and the 14-year-old bus was checked last month.
Police said the dead woman had been waiting for a bus with her husband, who was injured. Four people were discharged after hospital treatment; one person is stable.