PETALING JAYA: The bus involved in the horrific accident along the Cameron Highlands-Simpang Pulai road which killed 27 people was to be used only for city tours, not for long-distance travels, especially those involving hilly terrain, experts say.
They said high-decked buses were unsuitable for travelling uphill as the centre of gravity was higher, making such vehicles very unstable.
Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) vehicle safety and engineering division director Dr Wong Shaw Voon said such buses were only meant for city tours, like the famous ones used in London.
“The bus can become unstable when going uphill or when travelling at a higher speed. This is especially when drivers negotiate sharp bends,” he said.
Dr Wong, commenting on investigations into the horrific accident on Monday, said Miros was looking into the design of the bus, overloading of passengers on the upper deck, the concrete barrier of the road and other factors.
“The accident site was known as a black spot area,” said Dr Wong, adding that more signboards were needed to alert drivers.
He said all the passengers of the ill-fated bus were seated in the upper deck, adding: “This can result in instability and the centre of gravity is out.”
The lower deck, he said, was designed as a conference room and was filled with the passengers’ luggage.
Asked if such a vehicle was allowed to travel uphill, Dr Wong said: “A high-decked bus is more stable if its centre of gravity is lower.”
Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said an initial study by Miros showed that the ill-fated bus was a 1.5 decker where its design was “within the safety specifications”.
Miros director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah said such vehicles should only travel on flat road surfaces and that bus operators should take the suitability and condition of buses into consideration before ferrying passengers around.
State Public Works Departments director Datuk Dr Safry Kamal said high-decked buses should not be driven on hilly terrains.
He added that they could easily topple over due to their high centre of gravity.
A review, he said, should be conducted on allowing such vehicles on highlands.
A check at the accident site yesterday showed that debris from the crash had not yet been cleared. The roof of the bus was still in the ditch where it landed along with the metal debris from the wreckage.
The police, Public Works Department, Road Transport Department and Miros personnel were at the scene to gather information on the crash.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said initial findings showed that the ill-fated bus had only one driver instead of two.
“The site is also a black spot. A lorry was involved in a road accident just a few kilometres away about 10 days ago,’’ he said, adding that the investigations into the incident are expected to be completed in 10 days’ time.
Kong also said that there was no law to prohibit high-decked buses from travelling uphill.
Meanwhile, SK Murni Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd denied that the San Express Holiday (SEH) tour bus, bearing registration number AFX 2266, belonged to the company.
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