PHUKET: I operated very large trucks, buses, cranes and earth-moving vehicles for more years than I care to remember, in various countries including Austria – whose mountain passes make “monster” Patong Hill look like a pimple on an elephant – and Australia, in giant mines in the northwest.
The cardinal rule for going downhill is: Let your engine help retard your speed. That means shift down through the gears before it’s too late.
I am truly amazed at the frequency of vehicles – mainly buses – losing control on Patong Hill. It begs the question: Where and how do the drivers of these vehicles get their licenses to operate these vehicles? Innocent people’s lives depend on the experience, capability and knowledge of the guy behind the wheel.
Have the drivers had any mechanical tuition? Do they know what makes the damn thing work? That is, do they understand the braking mechanism, the gearbox – yes, even on automatics you can shift down, and should – or the engine vacuum retarder?
I understand the average holiday-maker coming here doesn’t want to engage in thinking about such matters, they just want to get to their hotel, kick off their sweaty gear and get down to the beach or to Bangla Road.
But if it weren’t for these poor trusting souls, there would be no need for these death traps and drivers of same. Why not help them accomplish their well-earned dream vacation in paradise by monitoring the drivers? Bus companies, police, tour companies and traffic authorities should all be responsible for this.
And here’s some advice for all those who use “the monster”: The next time you use it, check the vehicles in front of you and see how far they travel with their brake lights on. Brake lights blazing means they’re riding their brakes, which means the brakes are getting very hot, which means the brake fluid is going to boil, which means it’s going to dry up, which means… Goodbye all!