SINGAPOREANS travelling by bus to Kuala Lumpur on the North-South Expressway (NSE) are more likely to get to their destination safely than passsengers in other parts of Malaysia.
Industry experts say the expressway between the two cities is much safer than the stretch from KL to Penang as the road surface is mostly flat, and the lanes are straight.
"I don't think passengers from Singapore have to worry too much," says Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association chairman Ashfar Ali.
The northern part of the NSE between KL and Penang is more dangerous because of the mountainous terrain, especially around Ipoh and Taiping in northern Perak state, industry players say.
Recent data released by the police, all 10 accident- prone stretches on the NSE are in Perak. Seven of them are near Ipoh: Jelapang, Gua Tempurung and Kuala Kangsar.
The main killer stretch was at the Jelapang toll plaza near Ipoh, which was later closed.
Based on news reports this year alone, at least four bus accidents have occurred in Perak - including this month's horrific crash near Taiping town.
From past media reports, there were at least nine accidents involving Singapore- and JB-bound buses from Genting Highlands, Penang, Perak and Kedah over the past five years.
The roads from KL to the east-coast states of Pahang, Terengganu or Kelantan also have dangerous stretches in the hills, experts say. Other killer roads are trunk routes not usually used by tourists.
Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh says the KL-Singapore route has not had any serious crashes involving public transport operators as they use better buses on this lucrative route.
The spate of accidents involving express buses - vehicles that carry passengers over long distances - in the past two weeks has dented many people's confidence in this popular mode of transport.
According to statistics from the Road Transport Department, there were 8,594 bus accidents nationwide in 2005, and 11,959 in 2004.
The data also showed there were 25 deaths from bus accidents this year up to June, and 39 last year, but does not indicate where they occurred.
Mr Sugath Jayatilake, a company director from Sri Lanka, feels that KL-Singapore services are safe. "I'm quite confident they are safe from the way they drive. They don't speed," he says.
But Ms Jennifer Wuen, a telecommunications executive from Hong Kong who works in Singapore, is more nervous. She says: "I prefer to sit at the back, it seems safer."