Following an horrific multi-fatality accident, the Land Transport Department will stop accepting new registrations of double-decker buses.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said that operators of existing double-decker buses would be required to bring their vehicles for examination to see whether they meet the safety standard of the Land Transport Department. The tightening up of safety of doubledecker buses and the move to stop new registration of double-decker buses, which is yet to become effective, follows an horrific bus accident in Wang Nam Khiao district of Nakhon Ratchasima on March 21st in which 18 people were killed and more than 30 injured. Suthep Ruenthawil, chief of the Nakhon Ratchasima provincial disaster prevention and mitigation unit said the bus driver lost control while the vehicle was going downhill, before it veered off the road and jumped a traffic island then smashed into a large tree.
“The bus was torn into two parts,” he said. The 45-year-old driver admitted that he was fully aware that the braking system had failed as the bus was descending downhill and gaining speed which was beyond his control. The driver’s statement about brake failure corroborated with statements of several survivors that they smelled something burning under the bus and knew them something went terribly wrong. After inspecting the accident site, the minister told the media that the accident was not caused by physical conditions of the road as there were clear warning signs.
He said the ill-fated double-decker bus was old, equipped with GPS system and never involved in an accident but it has not been examined by inspectors of the Land Transport Department for the mid-year inspection. He said the driver drove the bus at a speed of 83 kmh which was within the speed limit. But because the road was heading downhill, the speed should not exceed 60 kmh. To prevent future accidents in the area, Mr Arkhom said he had ordered the Highways Department to increase the height of the road barrier to one metre from the current height of 80 cm to prevent cars from jumping over the barrier.
According to road accident statistics involving tour buses for last year, there were 171 incidents, 63 of them involved doubledecker buses. However, the number of casualties from accident involving a doubledecker bus is six times higher than a normal bus. Dr Thanapong Jinvong, , manager of the Road Safety Group Thailand, disclosed that over 7,000 new double-decker buses were registered in 2016. He recommended that the Land Transport Department should tighten up examination of double-deckers to make sure that they are strong and safe. He also said that double-decker buses should be banned from using some roads which are steep or downhill for a long distance without any stopping point.