En­force­ment of speed gauges for high­way buses stepped up

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com

BUSES and trucks along the no­to­ri­ous “Death High­way” had bet­ter make sure they are hooked up to a Telem­at­ics sys­tem, which mea­sures their speeds, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

“We have a plan to ban ve­hi­cles that refuse to in­stall the Telem­at­ics sys­tem from us­ing the high­way,” Po­lice Colonel Soe Myint Oo from the High­way Po­lice Force said in a press con­fer­ence.

Buses driv­ing along the Yan­gonNay Pyi Taw-Man­dalay route have been re­quired to have the Telem­at­ics sys­tem in­stalled since last Novem­ber, said Daw Myint Myint Shein, a spokesper­son for B Smart, which won the Na­tional Road Safety Com­mit­tee and Min­istry of Con­struc­tion’s con­tract for their in­stal­la­tion. Trucks needed to have the sys­tem in place by Fe­bru­ary, she said.

B Smart has in­stalled the de­vice in about 1000 trucks and an­other 1000 buses, said the com­pany’s Su­per­vi­sor U Aung Soe Oo. Ve­hi­cles are re­quired to pay K25,000 monthly for the ser­vice.

Trucks, de­fined as ve­hi­cles over 14 feet (4.25 me­tres) long, are al­lowed to use the high­way if they have the sys­tem in­stalled and are car­ry­ing items in need of quick trans­port: newspapers, fish, prawns, crabs, eggs, chicks, fruit and flow­ers, High­way Po­lice Force of­fi­cials said.

Trucks, de­pend­ing on their weight, are lim­ited to 60 to 80 kilo­me­ters (37-50 miles) per hour while pas­sen­ger ex­press buses are lim­ited to 100km an hour.

Af­ter an ed­u­ca­tional pe­riod, which be­gan in June, po­lice be­gan us­ing the de­vices to take ac­tion against speed­ing drivers on Septem­ber 1.

Through Oc­to­ber 5, they have charged 1424 ve­hi­cles, said Col Soe Myint Oo. Penal­ties carry a K50,000 fine, a one-month jail sen­tence or both.

But the most common speed­ing of­fend­ers are pri­vate cars, records show.

Be­tween 2013 and 2014, traf­fic ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing pri­vate cars ac­counted for 85 per­cent of to­tal traf­fic ac­ci­dents, 75pc of the ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing a fatal­ity and 80pc in­volv­ing in­juries, Col Soe Myint Oo said.

“There­fore, we have planned to ex­tend the in­stal­la­tion of Telem­at­ics to pri­vate cars trav­el­ling along the high­way,” he said.

In Septem­ber, po­lice be­gan mon­i­tor­ing the speed of pri­vate ve­hi­cles, said High­way Po­lice Force Ma­jor Yan Naung Win. When drivers were pulled over, they were con­fused, not­ing that they had only been fol­low­ing the in­struc­tions of the signs on the high­way.

Those signs, said Yan Naung Win, were not meant to in­struct drivers on the speed limit but were erected by the Min­istry of Con­struc­tion to mea­sure the speed the drivers were trav­el­ing and in­form the drivers of that speed.

Po­lice say their speed crack­down, which started in June, has led to a de­cline in ac­ci­dents. Four­teen of 80 were speed-re­lated in July, 25 of 70 were speed-re­lated in Au­gust, and 14 of 50 were speed-re­lated in Septem­ber, said Maj Yan Naung Win.

“In mon­soon sea­son, cars al­ways skid or col­lide with mo­tor­cy­cles and cat­tle,” he said.

Traf­fic ac­ci­dents have been a ma­jor is­sue coun­try­wide, as ve­hi­cle us­age sky­rock­ets while en­force­ment, driver train­ing and road in­fra­struc­ture lags far be­hind.

– Trans­la­tion by Zar Zar Soe

Photo: Than Naing Soe

Buses and trucks on the Yan­gon-Man­dalay high­way are now re­quired to have a Telem­at­ics sys­tem.

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