Safety second on small tour buses?

Recently there have been two bad accidents on Centralian roads involving small tour buses.

 

In the first, a bicycling girl from Taiwan was killed on the Lasseter Highway when she was hit while riding after dark.

 

In the second, a tour bus rolled, and while I didn’t hear of anyone being killed, I think one or two were taken to the hospital.

 

Is this happening because the companies operating three day tours are not giving their solitary drivers sufficient down time while on tour?

 

I have been told that a typical first day starts at 4:30am for a quick shower and bite to eat, then a muster at the company yards to collect the bus, a drive around Alice to pick up the punters and through the Gap by 6am.

 

Then it’s a drive to either Kings Canyon or Uluru collecting firewood on the way, setting up camp, sorting the swags, building a fire, cooking a meal, entertaining the troops, and don’t forget to secure against rain if necessary.

 

And finally when it’s all sorted it’s into a swag for what sleep is to be had.

 

In the morning, it’s another early start to make breakfast, pack the camp, drive to the next destination, set up the same camp and cook another evening meal.

 

And all the time smile and talk and answer questions while doing everything possible to keep the punters happy.

 

Back to Alice on day three.

 

All this is being done by one person, the driving, the setting up, the cooking and the entertaining. Not to mention the same driver / tour guide has to take the lead on the various walks advertised on the brochures, whether that means a Rim Walk at King’s Canyon or a jaunt through the Olgas.

 

Has there been an accident? Heat stroke, or a sprained ankle? No reward for guessing who’s in the hot seat.

 

So I wonder if fatigue has played a major role in the recent accidents. To say that two busses traveling in tandem eases the pressure really only means that two busses are being driven by equally exhausted drivers.

 

Money spent on two operators per bus might be an idea. We would then be able to offer a better, a safer product to our visitors.

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