Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered a ban on the registration of new double-decker tour buses and stricter road worthiness checks for all public transport vehicles.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said Gen Prayut issued the instructions during Tuesday's cabinet meeting in the wake a record roadtoll over the New Year holiday.
The prime minister said the Transport Ministry must end the registration of double-decker buses, which were involved in too many accidents.
The 4,800 double-decker buses and 16,000 single-deck buses with a height of more than 3.6 metres already in operation must all pass a strict tilt test on a 30 degree slope. Any that fail to pass the test must be taken out of service, Mr Arkhom said.
He said the prime minister wants all vehicles used as public transport to be equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) for the effective monitoring of drivers' habits, since some accidents were caused by reckless driving.
Mr Arkhom said the prime minister instructed that the Land Transport Department suspend or revoke the licences of reckless drivers and impose heavier penalties on bus operators, such as tour bus companies, that put substandard buses into service.
"Thailand is the only country that still allows double-decker buses to operate," the minister said.
"The prime minister has expressed concern about this and wants the urgent imposition of more measures to reduce road accidents, especially during the coming Songkran Festival when more people travel than during the New Year."
Land Transport director-general Sanit Promwong said there were about 20,000 double-deckers and single-deckers taller than 3.6 metres in operation at the moment. All were required to pass a tilt test on at least a 30 degree slope, otherwise they would be taken out of service.
He said the department could not order all double-decker buses off the road immediately. The law did not allow that.
What could be done for now was not allow new double-decker buses to register. At the same time, the existing double-decker buses would be gradually phased out of service, he said.
Meanwhile, the Land Transport Department has issued an announcement that all passenger buses which register from Jan 25 this year must be fitted with a GPS.
Buses which already have a GPS installed were required to link their system with that of the Land Transport Department by the end of this year.
By the end of 2017, all vehicles used for public transport - buses, vans and taxis - must be equipped with a GPS, Mr Sanit said. Town minibuses and tuk-tuks were exempt.