Older drivers have judgment, experience younger ones lack

As a former London bus driver, I have been following with interest the discussion on interlining - driving multiple routes - in the revamped Singapore bus industry ("Go-Ahead scales back multiple route policy"; Sept 22, and "Bus drivers' inadaptability a concern" by Mr Soh Gim Chuan; Sept 23).

There are compelling arguments to be made on both sides.

For bus companies, interlining allows greater flexibility in managing resources efficiently and dealing effectively with unforeseen situations such as sickness and absenteeism.

For drivers, total daily familiarity with a single route makes for a less stressful and more efficient working shift. But having had to drive up to seven different routes within a single shift, I would find driving just one route intolerably monotonous.

But then, as Go-Ahead Singapore has learnt, the culture of Singapore bus drivers is very different from that of their London counterparts.

However, the comment from Mr Clement Tan Teng Leng that "many bus drivers are middle-aged and may not be as quick to react as younger drivers during an emergency" cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged ("Safer for bus drivers to be familiar with just one route"; Thursday).

It may well be true that younger drivers have quicker reaction times than those of more mature years.

But they also lack the judgment and experience which generally prevent older drivers from placing themselves (and their passengers) in situations where quick reactions are needed.

Accident statistics from across the globe concur that younger drivers are far more likely to be involved in road accidents than middle-aged ones. That is because, no matter how quick their reaction times, they are never quick enough to extricate themselves from the critical situations their lack of mature judgment and experience has placed them in.

Marc Rochester (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2016, with the headline 'Older drivers have judgment, experience younger ones lack'. Print Edition | Subscribe