As accidents rise, questions mount on BMTC drivers' skills

As accidents rise, questions mount on BMTC drivers' skills

Six accidents involving state-run buses in 3 months horrify commuters

As accidents rise, questions mount on BMTC drivers' skills

The increasing number of accidents involving BMTC buses has once again brought into focus the need to reduce stress on drivers and improve their skills at the wheel.

Over half a dozen accidents involving state-run buses in the last three months have horrified the commuters and made them mistrustful of drivers’ skills. Two recent accidents were more chilling: On April 18, a BMTC driver ploughed the bus into three passengers waiting at the bus stop, killing one of them instantly.

In March, a BMTC bus hit a waiting car, killing one of its three elderly women occupants. The accidents are more shocking because the BMTC has a rigorous recruitment procedure for drivers and candidates have to pass two levels of tests besides annual refresher courses.

The BMTC asserts that it has been making various efforts to encourage safe driving. It rewards drivers with cash and gold and silver medals for accident-free driving for three consecutive years. Besides, it ropes in NGOs and yoga instructors to help drivers calm down and meditate to relieve stress.

A case study conducted on BMTC drivers — ‘Are stress and accidents related?’ — had recommended separate lanes for BMTC buses on roads, at least during peak hours, to ensure safe journey for bus passengers as well as other road users. This way, buses would not be part of the traffic chaos.

A senior official in the BMTC insisted that all-out efforts were being made to ensure BMTC buses did not cause accidents, and the drivers were regularly educated about safe driving. “We hold regular workshops on road safety for drivers,” the officer said on the condition of anonymity.

It is, however, a herculean task for the authorities concerned to ensure a dedicated lane for the buses, he added. To send a strong message, drivers involved in accidents are punished and legal action taken against them, the official said.

The BMTC has also set up a complaint centre where commuters and road users can alert it to rash or negligible driving. On an average, the BMTC receives 4-5 complaints every day regarding rash driving.