Fatal accident leads to double-decker bus ban

Fatal accident leads to double-decker bus ban

After Father's Day crash that killed 14, authorities say licences of buses now on roads won't be renewed

Double-decker tour buses in Thailand are famed for their outlandish designs, but their safety record has also been a concern. (Apichart Jinakul)
Double-decker tour buses in Thailand are famed for their outlandish designs, but their safety record has also been a concern. (Apichart Jinakul)

Double-decker buses will be banned in the next four to five years, a change needed after an accident in Prachuap Khiri Khan province killed 14 passengers, said deputy government spokeswoman Rudklao Suwankiri.

Ms Rudklao, on behalf of the government, on Wednesday expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims involved in the accident, which occurred when a double-decker bus veered off the road and slammed into some trees, resulting in 14 deaths and 32 people injured.

The bus was travelling from Bangkok to Na Thawi district in Songkhla province. The accident took place at the 331-kilometre marker in tambon Huai Yang of Thap Sakae district in Prachuap Khiri Khan at about 1am on Tuesday.

FS1 Chatchai Saweeyanon, chief of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Unit in Huai Yang, said rescue workers found 14 bodies at the scene — seven in the upper deck, three in the lower deck and four outside the bus.

The 36-year-old driver was identified as Somsak, surname withheld. He is in critical condition in Prachuap Khiri Khan Hospital.

Ms Rudklao said the transport minister has amended a regulation that limits the height of double-decker buses to four metres, down from 4.3 metres now.

Also, each bus must install a GPS system and make it available for inspection. 

The licences of the double-decker buses now on the roads will expire in the next 4-5 years and they should be the last of their kind in Thailand, she added. 

“The prime minister has assigned the Transport Ministry and state agencies to ease the damage and help the families of the passengers,” Ms Rudklao said. 

Kongsak Chuenkrailart, coordinator of the public transport safety programme at the Foundation for Consumers, said the crash may have been the result of the driver dozing off, and a lack of maintenance on the vehicle. 

He also said the name of the bus company did not match the name of the firm that provided the bus tickets. 

“I would like agencies to reconsider the safety standards of double-decker buses and whether they guarantee passenger safety,” said Mr Kongsak

“Now we have double-decker buses in service everywhere in the country but the passengers do not get access to maintenance checks, details on the service life, insurance or proof that the buses have passed a slope test. All these factors have caused accidents over the years.”

The Department of Land Transport said on Wednesday that the bus in question was travelling at 88 kilometres per hour, which is below the speed limit of 90 km/h. 

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