Following safety rules key to preventing accidents in heavy fog season

With dense fog covered the Yangon River early Friday, the ferry services across the river and commuters faced chaos. Due to sudden changes in visibility, the people had to allow for more time during yesterday morning commute.

Similar weather condition is expected to cover in parts of Myanmar. Fog is a major travel hazard in the winter season in Myanmar on account of the resulting poor visibility. Dense fog these days can cause traffic accidents on roads, especially on expressways and waterways. Hence, the authorities must enforce safety rules for ferries in this heavy-fog season. Drivers must use headlights while travelling on highways when visibility is below 100 metres. Before setting off on a foggy journey, drivers must make sure their lights – especially the fog lights – are working properly. In extremely dense fog, when visibility is near zero, the best course of action is to first turn on hazard lights and then pull into a safe location, such as a parking lot of a local business, and stop. If there is no parking lot or driveway to pull into, vehicles can be parked off the side of the road. For ferries plying on the rivers, especially the Yangon River, during rush hour, drivers must follow the safety rules and refrain from operating services in early morning and evening when visibility is limited due to fog.

The lives of passengers are in the hands of ferry drivers, and those who violate the safety rules deserve to be fined or suspended for the sake of passengers.

The lives of passengers are in the hands of ferry drivers, and those who violate the safety rules deserve to be fined or suspended for the sake of passengers. Overloading and overcrowding have been highlighted as common and potentially deadly problems for passenger ferries plying in the rivers, especially in bad weather, in Myanmar. Passengers are advised to observe safety measures by wearing lifejackets. They can also report drunk drivers and instances of overloading to the authorities.

Domestic ferry operations play a crucial role in the movement of people and goods in the region, and sometimes, they serve as the only possible or reasonably affordable means of transport. To enforce safety rules, the authorities can fine owners and suspend crew licences. To prevent unnecessary accidents in the river, both local authorities and ferry operators should respect the legal machinery in dealing with violations of safety rules.

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