Group pushes to bump up crash payouts

PUBLIC TRANSPORT SAFETY ON AGENDA

Compensation payouts for victims of accidents involving public transport should be increased, a consumers group told a seminar yesterday.

The group also called for stricter measures to regulate public passenger vans.

Speaking at a seminar on public transport and passenger safety, Saree Aongsomwang of the Foundation for Consumers said the number of accidents involving passenger vans outnumbers other kinds of public transport vehicles.

Between October 2011 and October this year, incidents involving passenger vans accounted for 33% of all accidents caused by public transport vehicles, while tour buses accounted for 30%.

Ms Saree said consumer advocacy groups should push for increased compensation to help affected passengers, while the relevant laws must be strictly enforced to deal with the problem of overcrowded passenger vans.

She said if any provinces have passenger vans carrying more than the legal passenger limit, transport officials in those provinces should face disciplinary actions.

Ms Saree urged the Land Transport Department to force all public transport operators to have first-class or fully comprehensive insurance.

At present, they are only required to have a third-class policy which covers property damage and physical injury to a third party if the insured driver is at fault.

Sumeth Ongkittikul, an academic from the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI), said under the present Car Accident Victims Protection Act, compensation for victims is limited, with a maximum of 50,000 baht in initial compensation per victim.

If the driver of the bus or passenger van is proven to be at fault, the victim would receive another 200,000 baht.

However, the payouts have burdened the Health Insurance Fund and the Social Security Fund. The responsibility should rest with the party at fault in the accidents, Mr Sumeth said.

He also noted that in some cases courts have awarded the families of victims killed in accidents involving public passengers vans and buses payouts of up to 700,000 baht.

Mr Sumeth said that the amount awarded was often less than the payouts given to those left permanently disabled by accidents and questioned the logic of such awards.

He said the TDRI is trying to push for measures to ensure victims using public transport receive compensation immediately without having to wait for court proceedings to determine blame.

He also urged the Land Transport Department to regulate passenger vans by revoking concessions for routes where rules governing them are regularly flouted rather than arresting individual drivers.

This measure would prompt van operators to self-regulate, he said.

About the author

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Writer: Mongkol Bangprapa
Position: Reporter