The accident that changed everything
I was shocked to read about the fatal accident involving a minibus that took
place on the Dubai-Al Ain highway recently (“Minibuses not safe to carry
passengers,” Gulf News, October 5). A very close friend of mine died in a similar
accident two months ago. The accident took place near Ajman on a road
adjacent to the Emirates Road. The cause of the accident? A reckless motorist
driving a minibus. When I spoke to one of the passengers on board, he
informed me that the driver was speeding while talking on his mobile phone.
This was before he hit my friend’s vehicle. I lost my beloved friend and his
wife and three children continue to bear his loss — they could not even see
his face because the body was unrecognisable. One person’s mistake changed
everything for us. The authorities must realise that most minibus drivers
“bully” their passengers into believing that they are in control. Such motorists
drive recklessly or do as they please. However, it would be unfair to assume
that all minibus drivers are reckless or inconsiderate. I know a few who are
well behaved and courteous — they drive safely and take good care of their
vehicles. The authorities must encourage companies to appoint educated
drivers and monitor their activities, too. Let’s hope this suggestion is implemented
and more lives are not lost.
From Mr Shabeer A.
Less is more
I have witnessed the most appalling and downright absurd driving techniques from minibus drivers all over Dubai, particularly on Shaikh Zayed Road. Most drivers speed over the 100km/h limit and indulge in reckless lane-changing and other such offences! Additionally, these vehicles are packed with passengers, which increases the risk of accidents. Minibuses are essentially utility vehicles for tradesmen — that’s what they were originally designed for, not to carry people! The worst culprits on the roads are the ones driving vans, which have either a 2.4 litre or 2.7 litre engine. Would the drivers know what to do if they were driving at 120km/h and suddenly lost control?
The answer is ‘no’ in most cases, as is evident from many tragic incidents in the recent past. What was the fault of all the innocent victims who lost their lives? The manufacturers should fit these vehicles with 1.6 litre engines and install devices which would limit the speed of minibuses to 80km/h. I have been to Singapore many times and it’s so pleasant to be driven at a steady 50km/h speed, possibly because the driver is aware that he is being monitored. Some other places limit the driving speed to as low as 30km/h! Can any motorist imagine driving at that speed here?
From Mr Ian Monastyrski
Don’t blame the bus
Minibuses or other vehicles should not be blamed, as in most cases the fault lies with the driver. I think all drivers need to be counselled on the need to drive in a safe manner, in addition to being provided with a refresher course on safety rules on a yearly basis. Most accidents are caused by uneducated and reckless motorists.
From Mr Mian Mohammad Mazhar
Minibus ‘health’ test
I confess to being shocked that the focus of the recent tragic accidents seems to be about the safety of minibuses. Surely the problem is actually with the driving standards. To blame the minibus is similar to blaming a firearms manufacturer for a person being shot! The appalling driving practices and habits of several minibus drivers need to be checked and monitored. Would it not be more sensible and constructive to put the drivers of such passenger vehicles through special licencing procedures and training?
Additionally, minibuses must be strictly prohibited from being driven in the fast lanes and their speed should be restricted to 80km/h. The minibuses should pass a vehicle ‘health test’ every six months, too. Minibuses are used as a very safe and necessary form of transportation in many countries around the world and the accident rates are often negligible in many places. The problem is that we have too many reckless drivers, and I don’t just mean minibus drivers! There needs to be greater supervision and policing and not sanctions against the use of minibuses.
From Mr David McGee
Courtesy is the cure
Accidents continue to occur while we indulge in yet another round of discussion and debate. Two days ago, while I was in a long queue of cars at the Greens exit on Shaikh Zayed Road, a brand new minibus — full of schoolchildren — suddenly changed lanes, possibly to avoid the queue. If my child had been on that bus, I would have probably taken the driver to court. However, we must not target minibus drivers — what about motorists who drive their cars in a reckless manner? Often, such drivers derive pleasure from seeing motorists nervous and tense. It’s no wonder then that accidents continue to recur. If everyone could be more courteous to one another, the number of accidents would probably reduce by about 80 per cent.
From Mr Oswald
I have travelled in a minibus on many occasions and can confirm that most drivers do not follow safety standards — they speed and change lanes unnecessarily, without checking for approaching motorists. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) should take appropriate measures, train such drivers or provide an alternative mode of transportation in case they decide to ban the use of minibuses. We must acknowledge and accept the fact that minibuses are used by a lot of people. In some cases, their livelihood depends on it.
From Mr Hasnain Emtiaz
Paying to speed
Most minibuses are owned by drivers who pay per trip. This is the main reason why many drivers speed and ignore road rules — they need to meet the deadline and probably do not wish to pay extra money. Additionally, most drivers do not have deputies and are not answerable to anyone either. It is necessary for such drivers to be monitored and controlled.
From Mr Ebrahim Naduvannur
For goods, not people
I take a minibus to work every day. I agree that minibuses are not the safest mode of transport, simply due to the lack of space and the way the vehicle is designed. Passengers cannot sit in a comfortable position as their knees are constantly pressed against the front seat. In case of an emergency, it is difficult for the passengers to move. The vehicle is very light and is not designed to travel at a high speed or take sharp turns, like a normal car. However, most drivers tend to drive fast and do not care about passengers. Despite complaints, the transport companies do not replace errant drivers, probably because they are familiar with the routes or quite punctual. Additionally, passengers too, prefer such drivers as they are assured of reaching their desired destinations on time. I suggest the transport companies either switch to using 30-seater buses or seven-seater cars, which are safer than minibuses. Minivans were originally designed to transport goods.
From Mr Prakash Philip
Some airlines hire minibuses to transport passengers to and from the airport. Such buses are usually attached with trailers specifically meant to carry passengers’ luggage. It is extremely scary and worrying when such buses speed — at times, the loosely attached trailers can make the driver lose balance and control over the vehicle. Imagine the consequences if such trailers were to collide with other vehicles on the road. This could be fatal for the passengers in the minibus too, who are probably going on a holiday to meet loved ones.
From Mr Mushtaq
Ban the motorist
It doesn’t matter whether the authorities ban minibuses or not — it is not about the vehicles being used. It is necessary to ban the reckless motorists who cause such accidents in the first place!
From A Reader
Saved by a whisker
I have personally witnessed two accidents that involved minibuses, which resulted in the death of 10 people. Fortunately and to everyone’s amazement, all other passengers on board the two buses were safe.
From Mr Zahir
I have seen drivers of several minibuses drive in a reckless manner, endangering everyone’s life. The attitude of some of the drivers is quite careless most of the time. Therefore, it would be a good idea to fix the speed limit at 80km/h and ensure everyone follows the rules.
From Mr Shakeel Dadan
The core issue is reckless driving on the part of most drivers. There is, without a doubt, not a single day when I have travelled on the roads and not encountered a minibus driver either speeding or breaking the law, despite the vehicle being packed with passengers. In such cases, the driver is not only endangering the lives of everyone on board, but of other motorists, too. Fix the attitude and you can solve the problem. Additionally, reducing the passenger capacity could help, too. Perhaps rather than banning the use of minibuses, it would help to educate the drivers, enforce a special driver’s licence with dedicated training and restrict the maximum speed to either 80 or 100km/h.
From Captain Ian lewis
New rules, please
The authorities should introduce new rules for minibus drivers. For example, minibuses should be restricted to being driven only in the last lanes. Presently, most minibus drivers drive in an extremely rash manner, thereby making the roads dangerous for use for everyone else. Some drivers speed and have a total disregard for the dangers or consequences involved. It would be beneficial for everyone if the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) could introduce stricter rules.
From Mr Kenny
Not meant for people
It would be highly appreciated if the authorities could ban minivans from transporting passengers. I have personally witnessed several incidents while driving on Emirates Road and in most situations, the driver is unable to regain control of the vehicle. I request the authorities to seriously look into this matter.
From Mr Sunny Mathews
I agree that most minibuses are driven in a reckless manner. However, I don’t think reducing the number of passengers will help. It just means fewer people will be at risk in accidents. What is required is for the transport companies that own such buses to take responsibility for the manner in which these buses are used.
From Mr Saleel Latheef
The assigned speed limit for minibuses should be reduced to 80km/h. Additionally, all drivers must be restricted to driving only in the last lane.
From Mr Jamil Eqbal