TALKING on the mobile phone while driving, overtaking using the emergency lanes and speeding were among the offences committed by express bus drivers during the Hari Raya holidays.
This was uncovered by Road Transport Department (RTD) officers disguised as passengers on board express buses nationwide in the first three days of "Ops Selamat", which was launched last Sunday.
The RTD issued 271 summonses against such errant drivers who had put the lives of the passengers, who were travelling home to be with their loved ones, at risk.
RTD deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said the department officers had posed as passengers on board 441 buses in the first three days of "Ops Selamat".
"From the officers' report, the drivers of the 441 buses had in total committed 288 offences.
"In most cases, the bus drivers ignored the safety of the passengers they were ferrying and committed traffic offences such as talking on the mobile phone while driving, sending short text messages, overtaking on double-lines and using the emergency lane, beating the red light and speeding.
"These offences were committed on expressways, federal roads and state roads throughout the country," he said.
Ismail said "Ops Selamat" this year focused on public transport, especially express buses as they carried more passengers, and was at preventing high rates of fatality and injuries.
He said the RTD officers in "Ops Selamat" boarded the express buses at random, and the find was shocking as about 65 per cent of the bus drivers were found disobeying traffic rules.
"'Ops Selamat' will continue until Sunday, with officers boarding express buses at random all around the country.
"Once a bus driver is found violating traffic laws, the officers would note the nature of the offence and the time and place it was committed and issue the summonses when the bus has reached its final destination,
"For each summons, the driver would have to pay a fine of RM300," he said.
Ismail said the RTD had also conducted checks on 3,203 express buses, of which 75 were found to be unfit to be on the road.
"In most cases, the buses had faulty brakes and tyres that were either worn out or not fitted according to the required specifications.
"We issued notices for the faults to be rectified and the buses would have to be sent to the respective state RTD offices to undergo an inspection before they are allowed to carry passengers.
Ismail was speaking after a state RTD operation to nab traffic offenders in Lebuh AMJ (Alor Gajah-Melaka Tengah-Jasin), here, on Wednesday night.
Also present were state Transport, Information, Unity and Consumer Affairs chairman Datuk Ghazale Mohamad and state RTD director Mohd Fadhil Hassan.