MANILA, Philippines – Authorities are eyeing overloading as a possible cause of the bus crash in Nueva Ecija that killed at least 31 people, with initial reports showing the vehicle was carrying 77 people – more than its capacity of only 45.
But Jason Salvador, former Land Transportation Office spokesperson and now the manager of a global road safety project of the Ateneo School of Government, said there may have been other causes behind the deadly crash.
“There are several contributory factors. One is the road condition, the driver condition, and of course the vehicle condition. We have to study all of these,” Salvador said in a Rappler Talk interview on Thursday, April 20.
The Leomarick Trans bus had plunged into an 80-foot ravine in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija late Tuesday morning, April 18.
Based on survivors’ accounts of the incident, one of the bus’ front tires exploded, causing it to overturn, and then fall into the ravine. (READ: Why road crashes are no accidents)
Salvador said the conditions of the road, the driver, and the vehicle must always be taken seriously, as these may endanger the lives of passengers, as seen in the tragedy that happened in Nueva Ecija.
“We have to look at the roads: are there enough safeguards on the road? Because in the Nueva Ecija incident, there were reports that [it] crashed because there were not enough barriers, that’s why they fell into a ravine. And then there were also reports that the bus was kind of old and the tires were worn out. And you also have to look at the condition of the driver,” he said.
But aside from this, Salvador said it is also important to look at the mindset of those riding and driving the vehicle.
“There are reports that [the bus] was overloaded. They should have realized that this puts them at risk. You have to inform people that they should be able to learn about the red flags,” he said.
“For example, before they board a public utility vehicle, they themselves should know that they should look at the conditions of the vehicle – if this is safe enough, the way the driver is handling the vehicle, and [if] there are enough seats so that they can be properly secured,” he added.
‘Road safety is a public concern’
Whenever there are reports of road crashes, Salvador said people tend to look immediately at what the government can do. But he said the public should also be engaged.
“People should have a paradigm shift in their thinking that road safety is not just a government concern. It is everybody’s concern because lives are being lost,” he said.
He also pointed out that road safety is a global public health issue, with 1.3 million lives lost every year. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Road crashes in the Philippines)
“I think that the numbers are increasing and we have to mitigate this in more ways than one,” said Salvador. – Kurt dela Peña / Rappler.com
Kurt dela Peña is a Rappler intern.
Read More: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/road-safety/167474-factors-road-crashes-jason-salvador