Hong Kong buses soon to be equipped with anti-drowsiness systems
Buses installed with anti-drowsiness systems for drivers could soon be on the road, with the city’s biggest bus operator announcing that testing was nearly finished for the new safety measure.
The city’s largest bus company, Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB), said on Saturday that tests of anti-drowsiness devices on 16 buses were in the final stage. The system was designed to detect a driver’s level of alertness through facial recognition software – and emits a warning if the driver dozes off.
Andrew Kwan Chi-wai, safety director at KMB, said some systems would need adjustment
because each country has different driving conditions.
“This system is just to help drivers drive safely. We have no intention to discipline drivers because of it ,” he said at a local road safety event.
The anti-drowsiness measures are being rolled out a after a KMB bus crashed in Tai Po last February, killing 19 people
. The accidents was one of Hong Kong’s deadliest road disasters and raised questions
about whether drivers had sufficient training, support and management.
The bus company added about 160 buses installed with electronic stability systems and devices that limit driving speeds were expected to arrive in Hong Kong in August.
The company said it hired nearly 100 drivers to meet the manpower demands of new working hour guidelines that were revised by the Transport Department after the fatal bus crash.
Although the new guidelines advised that maximum daily work hours be cut from 14 to 12, a so-called special shift still allowed drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a mandatory three-hour break.
Kwan said the bus company would continue to look into ways of reducing the special shifts for drivers from a maximum of 14 hours to 13.
“Our colleagues need time to adapt to [the new guidelines]. Honestly, we are making the changes. For example, they have a three-hour break in the middle for the special shift. So they are still adapting and different colleagues are sharing different views,” he said.
On Friday, bus operators Citybus and New World First Bus announced that the first vehicle installed with the electronic stability programme and speed-limiting system had arrived in Hong Kong. Every seat on the bus is equipped with a safety belt.
The company said the bus would begin serving the public after tests were conducted by the Transport Department. A total of 119 vehicles with the new systems are expected to arrive in the city over time.
The new bus has USB charging ports installed on the backs of the seats and in the wheelchair parking area, the bus companies said.