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Bus accidents: an additional burden for the poor. CODATU IX Conference, Mexico City, 11 – 14 April 2000

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1?L TITLE: by: TRL Limited Crowthorne Berkshire RG45 6AU United Kingdom Bus Accidents: An additional burden for the poor D A C Maunder and T C Pearce PA3535199 Department For International Development PA3535/99 MAUNDER, D A C and T C PEARCE (2000)1Bus accidents: an additional burden for the poor. CODATU ]X Conference, Mexico City, 11 -14 April 2000. Bus accidents: An additional burden for the poor Accidents d'autobus: un fardeau suppldmentaire pour les pays pauvres Accidentes de bus s una carga adicional para el pobre D A C Maunder and Pearce T Transport Research Laboratory, Crowthorne, UK. ABSTRACT: Countries of the developing world are characterised by rapid urbanisation, high growth rates in traffic and congestion and decreasing regulation of public transport. Because a majority of the developing world's inhabitants are dependent on public transport services, the need for safe, effective and efficient public transport is essential to ensure adequate and affordable accessibility. The paper highlights the results of stud- ies examinin g public transport operations in Nepal, India, Thailand, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The contribu- tion of bus accidents to the accident burden of each country is established and likely causes identified. Finally, recommendations are made to reduce both the severity and number of public transport accidents. R.1~ SUMtI: Les pays du. tiers monde se caract6risent par une urbanisation rapide, un taux de croissance du trafic et des encombrements 6lev6 et une d~r~gulation des transports publics. Commne la plupart des habitants des pays en d~veloppement sont tributaires des transports en commun, il est important de pr~voir des trans- ports publics sfirs, efficaces et qui fonctionnent et d'en assurer 1'acc~s suivant les besoins et A un prix raison- nable. Cet article expose les r~sultats d'dtudes sur les transports en commun au Nepal, en Inde, en Thailande, Tanzanie et Zimbabwe. Ces 6tudes examinent la contribution des accidents d'autobus Ai la totalit6 des acci- dents enregistr~s dans chaque pays et tente d'en identifier les causes. Enfin, il propose des recommendations pour r~duire la gravit6 et le nombre d'accidents de transports en commlun. RESUMEN: Los pais es en desarrollo se caracterizan por: rapida urbanisacion, altas tasas de crecimiento del trafico, y congestion. La mayoria transporte publico, por lo tanto, se necessita depender del servicio se- guro, efectivo y eficiente. Este articulo presenta los resultados de varios estudios quie examinan la operacion del transporte en Nepal, In- dia, Thailand, Tanzania y Zimbabwe. Estos estudios investigan la proporcion de los accidentes de bus en el. total de accidentes de cada paiz, y los posibles causas. Finalmente, se hacen recomendaciones para reducir tanto el numero como, el gravedad de los accidentes de transporte publico. 1 INTRODUCTION Worldwide, there are estimated to be up to 1 mil- lion road accident fatalities and 10 million people injured annually, many with long term disabilities (World Health Report (1999) Tables 2 and 4). Al- most 70 per cent of these occur in the developing or emerging world. Whilst there is a general decline in the number of fatalities in industrialised countries the opposite is true elsewhere. If account is taken of levels of motorization by expressing accident statis- tics as rate per registered vehicle, then less devel- oped countries (LDCs) have rates at least 10 to 20 times higher than the best industrialised countries. The worst countries in these terms have fatality rates 1 00 times higher (Ghee et al. 1997). Fouracre and Jacobs (1976) calculated that, for any country, the cost of road accidents was equiva- lent to approximately one percent of its Gross Na- tional Product (GNP) although currently it is thought to be between one and three percent. However, using the 1 percent figure gives an estimated annual global cost of road accidents of the order of US$230 bil- lion, with the cost to LDCs being around'US$36 bil- lion, a sum that they can ill afford. .Countries throughout the developing world are characterised by rapid urbanisation, high growth rates in traffic and, consequently, congestion and de- creasing regulation of public transport. Because the majority of the developing world's inhabitants are dependent on public transport the need for safe, effi- cient and effective public transport services is essen- tial to ensure adequate and affordable accessibility, for sustaining livelihoods and rural and urban devel- opment. This paper, describing work funlded by the British Government's Department for International Devel- opment (DFID) Knowledge and Research (KAR.) Programme, aims to establish the current operational environment of the public transport sector in each of the countries, the extent and the likely causes of ac- cidents. The study has been undertaken in a number of countries [Nepal, Zimbabwe, Thailand, Tanzania and in the Indian State of Maharashtra], which are assumed to be representative of the emerging na- tions. Data have been collected from official sources in the countries and interviews undertaken to obtain opinions as to the causes of bus accidents. In addi- tioni, vehicle condition and driver behaviour was monitored. Conclusions and recommendations are discussed to reduce both the severity and number of public transport accidents in the future. 2 NEPAL The first bus services in Nepal commenced in 1957 and since then the fleet has grown substan- tially, especially since 1992. By 1996 there were a total of 7800 conventional buses and 2752 minibuses operating public transport services throughout the country (Maunder et al 1998). About 95 per cent of buses are owned and oper- ated by the private sector, the remaining 5 percent being owned by the public or semi-public sector. Although vehicles are mainly operated on an indi- vidual basis, the `Dial system" predominates as As- sociations or Syndicates manage routes on behalf of owners. The "Dial system" ensures equal operational trip making for. each operator in the Associa- tion/Syndicate, as vehicles have to wait in a queue prior to departure. It does however, constrain the number ~of trips made by each bus. Thus although the supply of permits is liberalised, the actual provision is constrained throughout the country. In addition, owners who do not belong to an Association /Syndicate frequently encounter operational difficul- ties at bus parks. During the period July 1995-June 1996, 479 seri- ous bus accidents [14% of the total] resulted in 365 fatalities and 1751 injured persons. The totals repre- sented 39 percent of all road fatalities during the 12 month period and 60 percent of all road casualties (figures for the 18 month period of November 1996 to April 1998 are similar in terms of the percentage of bus .accidents and fatalities). Bus accidents there- fore represent a significant proportion of all road ac- cidents and injuries in Nepal. Figure 1 illustrates the predominance of injuries and accidents caused by bus only accidents. 80 p60 e-, 30 10 Figure 1 Bus accidents in Nepal (1 995/6) Bus only accidents are defined as those in which the driver loses control and the bus either leaves the road or overturns. From comments made by the diverse groups in- terviewed, the likely causes of bus accidents can be categorised as follows: • Drivers and driving habits * Vehicle condition * Road condition * Other factors Data for the 18-month period [Nov 1996 -April 1998] recently analysed suggests that driver error was the major factor in 74% of bus accidents, exter- nal factors in 18% and vehicle condition in 8%. Eve- ryone agreed that one single factor was unlikely to cause an accident and that a combination of causes was the likely explanation. The factors raised in re- spect of drivers and their driving habits were: * Ease of obtaining an Heavy Vehicle licence * Lack of knowledge of the Highway Code and road * Driver fatigue due to long working hours * Overloading of vehicles to maximise revenue • Night drivers consuming alcohol, drugs or speeding Surveys of vehicle condition noted that 65% of buses had one or more faults in terms of tyres, wheel fixings, and front/rear lights yet all had passed a Ve- hicle Fitness Test and were legally fit to operate. The poor condition of roads resulting from defi- ciencies in maintenance, alignment, traffic signs and safety features were all identified as possible acci- dent causes. Weak enforcement of traffic regulations and a lack of road sense by pedestrians in rural areas especially when herding animals on the road or gen- erally crossing the road were also mentioned as con- tributory factors. 3 INDIA Public transport in India is characterised by a wide range of vehicle type from non-motorised modes such as cycle rickshaws to surface rail and metro. Both public and private ownership exists; the scale is immense with 64 public sector road transport undertakings operating a fleet in excess of 1 10,000 representing just 3 0% of the national bus fleet. Because of the size of India [1/4 million reported accidents leading to 60k fatalities and over 1/4 mil- lion casualties in 1995] it was decided that the study should be restricted to the State of Maharashtra. During the period 196 1-1996 the registered motor fleet in the state grew by over 40 times whilst the road network increased by 3.5 times; thus the growth in vehicles far outpaced the quantum of road net- work and other infrastructure. As a consequence, over the two decades 1975/9 5 the number of road accident fatalities increased by 282% and injuries by 220%. Data for 1995 shows that buses and HIGV's were involved in 35% of accidents, taxis cars and jeeps in 32%, two wheelers in 22% and other vehi- cles in 1 1%. Data were obtained from the State-owned Ma- harashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) which operates bus services throughout the State in competition with privately owned and Municipal bus companies. The MSRTC is the sec- ond largest operator in India with a fleet of 17,073 buses, employing 1 10,073 staff and carries 7.5 mil- lion passengers daily. During the operational year 1996/7 MSRTC buses were involved in 4149 acci- dents and 688 fatalities ensued. Of these, the MSRTC management assess that their driver was at fault for almost 50% of accidents. Driver inexperi- ence appears to be a probable cause as 3 7% were aged between 24 and 32 and 46% had been driving for less than 4 years. The opinions of the various drivers, conductors traffic police, passengers interviewed throughout the State suggested that the same probable causes relate. to the Indian situation as they do in Nepal and for the same reasons. 4 ZIMBABWE Urban public transport services are provided by the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO), now wholly owned by the government, which operates both conventional buses and mini- buses (Maunder et al 1993). There are also privately operated commuter omnibuses, introduced in 199 3, consisting of various vehicle types and capacity (Maunder et al 1993,1995,1996) which have been allowed to proliferate. with few controls. Long- distance bus services (inter-city and rural) are pro- vided by ZUPCO and the private sector. The police collect accident data in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Board analyses the data. In 1992 there were a total of 27,150 reported accidents leading to 1,066 fatalities and 13,458 in- jured persons and by 1996 the totals had increased to, 38,777, 1,205 and 18,070 respectively. Tablel shows that, most bus accidents [and consequently injuries] take place in urban areas but most fatalities result from long distance services. Bus Fatalities Injuries ____ ____ Accidents Long dis- tance/ 28% 74% 22% Rural _ _ _ _ _ Urban 72% 26% 78 Table 1 Bus accidents in Zimbabwe [1996] Police statistics of bus accidents in 1996 showed that 58% of bus accidents were classified as blame- worthy [i.e. human error] and led to 76% of bus fa- talities and 75% of injuries. The most frequently quoted factors in' respect of driver behaviour in- cluded reckless driving, inattention and a lack of judgement, speeding, driver fatigue and the use of unqualified and inexperienced drivers. One long distance operator suggested that "speed is used as a marketing tool" whereas in urban areas "speed is used to maximise earnings". External factors include road conditions, stray animals, weak enforcement of regulations and ad- verse weather such as during the rainy season. Ob- servations of vehicles showed that vehicle condition is generally satisfactory and that genuine spare parts are utilised. 5 TANZANIA ~~~~~~~~Table 2 summarises accident statistics by vehicle type for 1997 and 1998. The organisational structure of the bus industry in Tanzania can broadly be categorised into urban op- erations and long-distance [including rural services]. Urban operations presently comprise conven- tional buses and minibuses [Daladalas]. The fleet of the state run bus company, "Usafiri Dar es Salaam (UDA)", has dwindled and now comprises few con- ventional buses and minibuses. Privately owned Daladalas operate in almost all municipalities in the country and are generally capable of carrying 16 passengers. The Daladala fleet has grown considera- bly since their legalisation in 1983. Methods of re- munerating the Daladala drivers encourage speeding, overtaking, poor parking and frequent vehicle stop- pages to pick up or drop passengers on their way to anticipated destination s. The routes operated on trunk roads [long dis- tance] are long with the longest within the country being approximately 1425 km. The services operated are: * Inter-regional, which are services between cit- ies/towns within the country on paved and gravel roads • Urban-rural comprising a high proportion of services on gravel roads * Cross-border services The operational environment for long distance services changed recently. Quantity and fare controls on routes have been liberalised and entry into the in- dustry is now very much dependent on the road- worthiness of the vehicle. The most common buses are 45 -65 seat capacities. Driver turnover is high and due to an increasing passenger fleet buses com- pete for passengers by employing touts. It is alleged that, buses race against each other in order to pick up intermediate passengers along the route, on the other hand, the competition for passengers has resulted in some operators introducing semi-luxury and luxury coaches on selected routes to attract more passen- gers. 'The total number of reported accidents increased from 12595 in 1993 to 14335 in 1997 i.e. by 14%. The total number of fatalities increased each year from 1993 to 1996, but declined by approximately 10% to 1625 in 1997 and 1583 in 1998 [injuries were 12490 and 11381 respectively]. Measurable injuries have remained at a fairly constant level compared to reported accidents. It should be noted that national figures for 1998 have shown a decline; it is likely that this is due in part to the effects of the global recession as well as increased safety aware- ness and enforcement. Average (97/98) % distribution Vehicles Fatalities Injuries involved Private Cars 50.7 24.5 28.0 Pick-Ups 16.0 19.8 17.9 PSV Buses 0.3 16.1 17.5 PSVDaladala 23.6 23.2 21.0 Private Hire 0.2 0.3 1.3 HGVs 4.2 4.5 4.6 Motor Cycles 2.4 6.8 5.4 Pedal Cyclists 2.6 4.8 4.3 TOTAL 1100% 100% 1100% Table 2 Road accident statistics, Tanzania [1997/81 In total, conventional buses and Daladalas ac- counted for 24% of vehicles involved in accidents during 1997/98 but generated 39% of fatalities and injuries. On average each long distance bus involved in a road accident resulted in 5 fatalities and 39 inju- ries while the approximate unit fatalities and injuri es for other vehicle classes was insignificant. Within the public transport sector, long distance buses rep- resented 1.3% of vehicles involved in accidents yet generated 41% of fatalities and 45% of injuries whereas Daladalas represented nearly 98.7%, 59% and 55% respectively, indicating the lower severity of urban road accidents. As per police analysis the causes of all road acci- dents [bus accidents reflect the same trends] can be divided into three main categories: • Human factors = 76% • Vehicle condition = 17% * External factors= =7% Interviewees perceptions were that human errors are the principal contributory cause of road acci- dents. The causes of bus accidents as revealed by re- spondents are similar to the above but also includes an additional factor"` lack of enforcement" The human factor is perceived to be the principal cause of most bus accidents with factors similar to those found in Nepal. The contribution of human er- ror in causing accidents is not only confined to driv- ers as passengers and pedestrians also contribute to accidents. It is common for passengers to try to dis- embark from a bus while it is in motion or to distract the attention of the driver. Some fatal bus accidents may occur when drivers take irrational decisions and attempt to cross flooded rivers. Drivers are often en- couraged by passengers to cross flooded bridges and as a result make errors in judgement resulting in the bus being washed away. 1 5 TANZANIA The travelling public blames deregulation of the public transport system for the increased number of accidents occurring on both urban and long distance services. Inevitably this has led to an increase in the number of buses servicing the network although de- mand has not similarly increased. In 1995, according to statistics from police rec- ords, approximately 20% of bus accidents were caused by bus defects. By 1997 this had declined to approximately 17%, due, in part, to ongoing eco- nomic reforms that have led to a growth in vehicle sales and hence a younger bus fleet being operated. 6 THAILAND The conventional public transport sector in Thai- land comprises fixed and non-fixed routes [nation- wide mainly for tourists] with the fixed routes oper- ated by the entire fleet as follows: • Urban: the bulk of which are operated in Bang- kok and a handful of provinces [27%] * Inter-city: [23%] * Rural services operated within provincial boundaries [5 0%] The total conventional bus fleet in 1998 com- prised 93061 vehicles [0.5% of the total motor vehi- cle fleet] of which 94.5% were privately owned and operated and 5.5% publicly owned. The industry is strictly regulated by the Department of Land Trans- port in terms of standard of bus, route operated, timetable, fares etc. Accidents peaked in 1994 at 102610 and fatalities and injuries in 1995[16727 and 50718 respectively] since when reductions have ensued. During 1996/7, 70% of all accidents occurred in the Bangkok region and buses' and trucks were involved in 1 0% of all ac- cidents. The number of bus accidents has declined since 1993 when there were 6895 buses involved in crashes to 3717 in.1998 but still represents 5% of all accidents and generates an estimated 1500 fatalities and 5400 injuries. According to Police records, 74% of all accidents on the inter-city and inter-district highways in 1997 were due to driver behaviour, with the remaining causes due to external and vehicle defects. During 1998 the national newspapers reported a total of 32 major bus accidents resulting in 65 fatalities and 692 injuries of which 50% constituted single vehicle ac- cidents. In 1998 the state owned Transport Company fleet was involved in 377 accidents of which 20% were single vehicle crashes and 80% multi vehicle. The management considered that their own vehicle was the cause of 58% of these accidents and other vehi- cles in 42%. Of the former the driver was considered at fault in 79% of the accidents, external factors in 18% and the vehicle in 3%. As the above shows, driver error was the over- riding factor involving Transport Company vehicles and this is likely to be the same throughout the in- dustry. Interviews with operators and drivers con- firmed this view. Vehicle condition was not cited and surveys of vehicles generally showed that vehi- cles were in a reasonable condition. 7 DISCUSSION In all five countries,' were studies have been un- dertaken by TRL, road accidents are increasing over time and overwhelmingly driver behaviour is the major factor. Public transport vehicles appear to be involved in a higher proportion of accidents than their numbers warrant. However, this is principally because buses cover a high annual mileage through their duty cycles. Considering the number of passen- gers transported a safety culture should be active and evident, however, it does not seem to be the case at the present time. ILl Figure 2 Comparison of fatality and injury rates. Public transport in Nepal and Thailand has not undergone the same stresses of privatisation as else- where in the world but the existing situation does in- dicate some of its consequences. In India, Zimbabwe and Tanzania, public transport services are increas- ingly being owned and operated by the private sector as liberalisation is encouraged. This has inevitably lead to a philosophy, by the private sector, of profit maximisation by minimising costs rather than in- creasing efficiency. In Thailand, although 95% are privately owned there is strong regulation. Driver behaviour appears to suffer under the auspices of liberalisation and low enforcement. Figure 2 compares fatality and injury rates across the five countries. The need for high standards of driver behaviour and vehicles in Nepal, where nearly all the public transport sector is privatised, is empha- sised by the significantly higher severity of accidents with a fatality rate twice as high and an injury rate over three times as high as Tanzania. Some of this difference may be due to the difficult terrain over which buses are operated Interestingly, Tanzania and Thailand appear to have similar fatality and accident rates although the operating environment differs greatly. Thailand* *Zimbabwe India U ~~~~~~~~Nepal Increasing privatisation - Figure 3 Comparison of privatisation status and enforce- ment levels Subjectively, there does appear to be a link be- tween the degree of privatisation and the amount of regulation or enforcement that is present. Figure 3 attempts to illustrate this by plotting estimates of privatisation and enforcement for the five countries. It is recognised by the authors that these estimates are not quantifiable. 8 SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS Clearly the overriding factor to be addressed is how to improve bus driver behaviour. Suggestions to improve bus driver behaviour are listed below. It is clear however that drivers need to be better educated and trained when initially learning to drive but in particular: * They should be taught technical skills but also social and psychological skills to be a safe, re- sponsible professional driver. • Bus drivers, like all HGV drivers, should partici- pate in refresher driver training courses so that bad habits can be eliminated rapidly. * Owners should provide financial incentives for drivers who have been 'accident free' during the previous 12-month period. * Medical and health checks need to be provided regularly for all but especially ageing drivers. *Drivers should be encouraged to work within existing legal maximum hours. These may increase costs but are likely to be less expensive in the longer term than the cost of human tragedy, vehicle replacement and other third party costs. As well as improving the behaviour of the bus driver, road safety campaigns need to be funded and encouraged so that all road users are better educated as to how to behave when crossing and using the road and when herding animals on the rural road network. Owners and operators need to be encouraged to maintain their vehicles to a much higher standard than at present. Preventative maintenance can im- prove performance and productivity and extend the operational life of the vehicle. A safe, smart vehicle is also more likely to attract passengers than an un- safe and poorly maintained vehicle and also passen- gers might be encouraged to afford a slightly higher fare for such a vehicle/service. Owners/operators also need to understand that regular vehicle mainte- nance is a cost effective business practice which can minimise vehicle downtime and costly, time con- suming breakdowns whilst in service. Improvements in bus safety cannot be achieved by one individual or discipline, they are a collective responsibility and a collective spirit is required of all those involved including: * Bus owners, drivers, conductors and mechanics * Operator associations/unions * Police and government departments * Road Safety Associations/ * Driver training schools * Manufacturers and repairers of vehicles, spare parts and tyres * ALL road users Hence, whenever liberalisation is being consid- ered in respect of the provision of public transport services, enforcement of existing (and new) legisla- tion in terms of vehicle condition, numbers allowed to operate etc needs to be strictly enforced. Opera- tional regulations and procedures must also be im- plemented rigorously to ensure that safe and effec- tive service provision prevails for the benefit of passengers. 9 REFERENCES Ghee C, Silcock D, Astrop A, Jacobs GD) (1997). So- cio-economic aspects of road accidents in developing coun- tries. TRL, Report 247, TRE, Crowthorne, UK. Fouracre PR and Jacobs GD) (1976). Comparative accident costs in developing countries. TRRL Supplementary Report 206. Crowthome: Transport Research Laboratory Maunder DAC and Mbara TC (1995). The initial effects of introducing commuter omnibus services in Harare. TRI, Report 123, TRL, Crowthome, UK. Maunder DAC and Mbara. TC (1 993). The effect of owner- ship on the performance of stage bus services in Harare, Zim- babwe. PR25, TRL, Crowthorne, UK. Maunder DAC and Mbara TC (1996). Liberalisation of ur- ban public transport services: What are the implications? In- dian Journal of Transport Management Vol.20 No 2 February 1996. Maunder DAC and Pearce T (1 998). Bus Safety in Nepal . Indian Journal of Transport. Management Vol 22 No3 March 1998. Maunder DAC and Pearce T (1999). Public Transport Safety in Nepal and Zimbabwe. Journal of the Institution of Highways and Transportation. H & T Journal Vol 46 No1O October 1999. World H ealth Report (1999): Making a difference. Geneva, World Health Organisation. © Copyright Transport Research Laboratory 1999. All rights reserved. This document is an output from a project funded by the UK Department for International Development [DFI1D] for the benefit of developing countries. The views ex- pressed are not necessarily those of the DFID.