Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Interested in staying alive? Don't take the bus.

90 percent of Peru bus accidents caused by human error

Living in Peru
Israel J. Ruiz

According to Peru's Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MTC), 90 percent of the country's accidents are caused by human error.

Juan Tapia Grillo, head of the transport investigation center is suspicious of this figure, however, stating that it is almost always the driver's fault.

With bus drivers in Peru being accused of everything from driving over 15 hours non-stop and even driving drunk, serious concern has been raised and the government is slowly taking action.

While the Ministry of Transportation has announced that it is being more severe with sanctions and inspections are taking place all over the country, only two charges have been brought to the country's judicial power.

Peru's Public Ministry is pressing charges against Sol Andino Bus Company and Libertadores Bus Company for irregularities in Desaguadero and La Oroya.

Other than these two cases, there are several dozen "pending" or still being investigated by the country's national police.

Another problem is the amount of drivers bus companies hire. According to Jorge Villasante, the vice minister of transportation, bus companies should have at least two drivers per bus.

Turismo Libertadores has a fleet of 19 buses with only 14 workers on its payroll. Transportes Caplina is reported to have 34 buses and only 48 workers while Expreso Huamanga has six workers for 34 buses.

Another factor in almost daily bus accidents is how old the vehicles are. Buses in Mexico cannot be more than ten years old while in Peru there are buses over 30 years old on the highway.

For instance, 58 percent of the 65 buses run by Tepsa Bus Company were built between 1977 and 1978.

Five hundred people have been killed in 170 highway accidents over the past thirteen months in Peru.


Bus companies and drivers should be checked when leaving every major city (not just Lima). If there are serious violations, the company should be servery punished. If there are large numbers of fatalities caused by unlicensed drivers, the company should be shut down (Civa, etc) and the owners should be imprisoned.

I've had many buses pass trucks or other buses while I was in the oncoming lane and they did not have room or speed to pass. They just bully their way down the road flashing their lights and honking at oncoming traffic in the same lane, forcing it to swerve dangerously off of the road to avoid the bus. There are almost no police on the highways and most of them are only parked in small towns taking naps. The few that I see on the actual highway driving are usually going about 30-40 Kph because their vehicles cannot drive any faster and are about to break down.

If you are planning to travel to Peru, it is highly recommended that you avoid long distance bus travel. There have been many major crashes lately and even with the current push for more enforcement, the fatalities continue to climb.

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