Fresh passenger attacks on Chinese bus drivers highlight scale of problem after fatal Yangtze crash

A string of attacks on bus drivers across China have come to light after last month’s fatal Yangzte crash, including two fresh incidents at the end of last week.

The accident in Chongqing – which killed 15 people after a female passenger assaulted the driver, causing it to plunge into the river – has triggered a national bout of soul-searching over how to stop similar incidents happening in future.

In response to the incident a number of local authorities, including those in Chongqing, have instituted new penalties for attacks on drivers. Meanwhile the eastern city of Nanjing said all of its 8,000 public buses would be fitted with plastic screens to separate the driver from the passengers.

But as media outlets and social media users dug up a series of previous attacks on drivers, with at least 20 being recorded this year, the two latest cases only served to highlight the scale of the problem.

Video footage of the first incident in Xinyu in the eastern province of Jiangxi shows that a man tried to grab the steering wheel after the driver refused to stop midway between stops.

She immediately pulled the bus over to the side of the road and called the police, who detained the passenger.

In the footage, later uploaded onto the Pear Video site, the driver said she had tried to remain calm during the incident because the Chongqing crash “resounded like an alarm in my head”.

Beijing Time reported that similar incident had happened on Sunday, this time in Xiangtan in the central province of Hunan.

Once again a passenger tried to grab the wheel, but this time the driver slapped the man before bringing the bus to a halt.

Police are now investigating the matter, according to local media reports.

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Older footage of similar incidents have been uploaded onto social media, with 20 such incidents recorded this year alone.

Meanwhile, the state news agency Xinhua reported that at least three people have been jailed in the province of Liaoning alone so far this year.

The incidents, all of which were caused by passengers who were angry at missing their stop, happened in 2017 and did not result in any fatalities.

However, between March and June this year the trio were all given jail terms of three years for endangering public safety.

The Chongqing crash has also served to highlight the wider problems caused by badly behaved passengers.

News portal spoke to three drivers who said they had experienced daily problems such as attempted fare dodging and abusive passengers.

Deng Juan, 44, a driver in Changzhou in eastern China, told the news portal that although she had never been physically attacked in 25 years working as a driver, but she was frequently threatened and insulted by passengers who had missed their stops.

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“I hope all passengers will be more safety conscious and show drivers more respect,” Deng said.

The authorities have already urged passengers to step in if they see someone attacking the driver, and a national debate has started about whether there should be a mechanism for rewarding passengers who intervene.

Footage of one such incident, taken two years ago on a bus in Wuhan in central China, has started circulating widely on social media.

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The case has many parallels with the Chongqing crash and involved a woman who tried to grab the wheel from the driver as the bus was crossing the Yangtze river.

But in this case one man did intervene, dragging the woman away and holding her down in her seat with the help of his fellow passengers.

Xinhua reported that on Saturday, the director of the local Catering Trade Association had given the passenger, a man named Wu Ye, a 100,000 yuan (US$ 14,500) reward to show that society needs good Samaritans.

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