Another Bus Accident Leaves Me with Little Faith in Rio Transportation

I just read about another bus accident that left 7 people dead 2 days ago. Jesus Christ. Apparently the bus driver was speeding and, in doing so, flew by a passenger’s bus stop. The passenger proceeded to speak to the driver about it, things got heated, and the next thing you know, the bus careens over the side of an overpass, killing 7 passengers.

Local media are reporting that the bus had been operated on an expired Detran license and that the vehicle had amassed a string of traffic violations – 46 fines since 2008, fourteen of which relating to speeding offenses. Commentators say the incident has pulled into sharp focus an unregulated public transport system, which has failed to flag up the multiple offenses committed by drivers on the route.

This is not the first time I’ve heard about (or seen) unsafe driving on public buses (see my post about being IN a bus accident here).

Seriously — drivers here seem way more aggressive, and the idea that “pedestrians have the right of way” seems to be an afterthought at best. This sentiment is certainly publicized (there are signs on the roads saying “give pedestrians the right of way”), but I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be crossing the street and a car will make a turn into the street I’m crossing without slowing down. Sometimes, even though my “walk” sign is green, they’ll even honk or yell at me to watch where I’m going. Excuse me?

I’m not the only one who thinks this either. See some of the comments from expats on the article above:

Tom, April 4, 2013 – 10:57 AM:

Enforcement is not in the Brazilian vocabulary. As the GingerV mentioned, you can commit driving or other offenses in front of police and they do nothing. When drivers know that there are basically no repercussions for driving like a maniac it naturally becomes a free-for-all.

Jim, April 4, 2013 – 10:45 AM:

Bus drivers are pretty out of control here. They seem to be incentivized to complete a route as quickly as possible. Little old ladies in the aisle routinely go flying as the driver floors the accelerator or slams on the brake. On two occasions I stepped off the curb on Nossa Senhora da Copacabana when the pedestrian light turned green, only to have to step back on because a bus a full block away (both times) was accelerating in order to run the light… But the root problem isn’t the drivers of course, it’s the lack of public outrage. A similar problem with a private intercity bus line in Britain was resolved after two horrific accidents within a few weeks, and the resulting outcry.

I second Jim’s comment. When I was in that bus accident a couple of weeks ago, it absolutely BOGGLED my mind that no one made a fuss about anything. Not even the guy who was hit by shards of glass and was bleeding from his neck and chest!

This recent bus accident occurred on Tuesday — the same day the New York Times published this article about an American woman getting gang-raped for 6 hours this past Saturday, March 31st, 2013. She got into a privately-owned transport van (they’re very popular along the beach here) with her male companion. The driver and his 2 companions made the other passengers get out, drove the couple to a remote area, beat the guy, and raped her for 6 hours. Oh, and of course they used all of their credit cards and stole their money.

Suffice to say, I’m sufficiently skeptical (and, yes, a little terrified) of taking a bus or a van here. Subway, bike, and cabs for me! Come on, Rio — clean up your act!

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