Safety first

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Safety first

The accident at the mouth of the Bongpyeong Tunnel on the Yeongdong Expressway last Sunday that killed four and injured more than 30 after a bus rear-ended five cars raises alarms about how deadly and dangerous large speeding vehicles can be.

The tour bus driver was driving at a speed of 91 kilometers (57 miles) per hour when he crashed into the train of cars, having failed to step on the brakes. The driver turned his large vehicle into a killing machine after losing attention on the road.

Large vehicles like buses and trucks can cause major accidents because of their weight. According to the traffic authority, the fatality ratio from large-vehicle accidents last year was 3.4 versus 1.5 for smaller-vehicle accidents. Leaving this potential weapon in unskilled hands is like having a killer on the loose.

The driver had lost his license two years ago after being caught three times for drinking and driving. He regained his license to drive a large vehicle in March after his two-year probation ended. He soon found the job driving a large tour bus, suggesting he found a loophole in the road safety administration.

Authorities must remember people on the road for summer holidays could all be under potential danger. The government must toughen regulations and watch to prevent driving under poor conditions. It must consider strict guidelines such as those in Germany and the United States, where the number of driving hours per day are restricted and rest is mandatory after a certain number of hours driving.

Trucks and specialty-purpose vehicles of more than 3.5 tons have been required to be installed with a speed control mechanism to prevent speeding since August 2013. The government must examine whether the regulation has been well kept.

Bus and truck operators should be stripped of their licenses if they make drivers work beyond the limit. Safety is the fundamental right of civilians.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 22, Page 34
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