Drivers' failure blamed for most bus crashes

The failure of drivers to follow road laws is a major contributing factor to bus crashes, some of them costing precious lives.

In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Police Deputy Commissioner, Papali’i Monalisa Tiai-Keti, said all vehicle crashes are different, but from the cases that they have dealt with over the years, drivers were at most times culpable.

The Deputy Commissioner's views were sought on the issue of overloaded buses, posing a risk to the travelling public.

She said the overloading of public transport has its risks, which could lead to driver and the passengers suffering permanent injury or even death. 

“No one case or accident is the same but with our experience, the gist of the problem are bus drivers and their failure to adhere to the law either because of financial reasons (quick revenue), attitude and behavior, pure negligent, lack of common sense and many more,” she said.

“Passengers have the right to stop the bus if they feel that it is unsafe they also may call the police on 22 222 for assistance. Police website provides details of contact for Police Outposts that the public can reach out to.”

Samoa’s traffic regulations are clear on vehicle overloading, with the Deputy Police Commissioner making reference to the number of passengers, which a bus can uplift at any one time.

“Bus passengers as per requirement of the Traffic related laws is 33. Any overload is considered a traffic violation and bus drivers can be issued with a Traffic Offence Notice or charged with traffic related offence,” she said. 

Ultimately bus drivers make the call on whether their buses will be overloaded. 

However, Papali’i warned that overloading of buses always comes with risks. 

“Bus overload is at the discretion of the bus driver who is responsible for allowing passengers on the bus and the safety of its passengers. Bus drivers run the risk of overloading and then getting into an accident where passengers lives are affected either as a result of permanent injuries or death.”

Anthony Andersen, the owner of the local bus company Ai Ai Ava Transportation, told this newspaper early in the week that a lot of drivers overloaded their buses with passengers in order to generate enough revenue to cover their high operational costs. 

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