China released a guideline on Dec 11 to strengthen the safety of bus drivers and bridges, following a fatal plunge of a bus into the Yangtze River in October in Chongqing.
The guideline was released by the work safety committee of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, on the website of the Ministry of Emergency Management.
The guideline requires all buses to physically isolate drivers from passengers with barriers to ensure that drivers won’t be interfered with, though emergency staff would still be able to access a driver’s protected zone.
Thirteen people died in October, with two still missing and presumed dead, when a bus driver lost control after being attacked by a passenger.
Based on the black-box recording device and other evidence, a female passenger surnamed Liu missed her stop and demanded that the driver, surnamed Ran, stop immediately. When the driver refused, Liu hit him on the head with her cellphone, and a scuffle ensued. Ran lost control of the bus, which smashed through a bridge’s guardrail and plunged into the river with an estimated 15 passengers on board in Wanzhou, Chongqing.
The case shocked the country and brought attention to bus safety.
According to the guideline, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate will release detailed rules and cases defining criminal behavior that interferes with safe driving.
Safety personnel will be hired for major bus routes to improve security and maintain order on board. The guideline also requires safety improvements for bridges.
The incident in Chongqing was not an isolated case.
In 2015, in Longnan, Gansu province, a driver was attacked by a passenger and lost control of the vehicle, which ran up on a sidewalk. One pedestrian was killed and two others were injured.
Since 2013, the Judgments Online website of the Supreme People’s Court has recorded more than 67 criminal cases in which passengers were accused of endangering public safety by attacking bus drivers. Most of the defendants were sent to prison for more than three years. All the incidents involved fighting between passengers and drivers and led to crashes.