The Land Transport Department will stop accepting new registration of double-decker buses because they are more vulnerable to road accidents than ordinary buses, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said Thursday (March 22).
He added that operators of existing double-decker buses would be required to bring their vehicles for examination whether they meet the safety standard of the Land Transport Department.
The tightening up of safety of double-decker buses and the move to stop new registration of double-decker buses, which is yet to become effective, follows a horrific bus accident in Wang Nam Khiao district of Nakhon Ratchasima on Wednesday (March 21) in which 18 people were killed and more than 30 injured.
According to road accident statistics involving tour buses for last year, there were altogether 171 incidents, 63 of them involved double-decker buses. However, the number of casualties from accident involving a double-decker bus is six times higher than a normal bus.
The average height of a double decker is 4.3 metres compared to 3.6 metres for an ordinary bus.
Minister Arkhom and his officials made an inspection trip to the site of the fatal accident on Route 304 between Prachin Buri and Nakhon Ratchasima.
After the inspection, the minister told the media that the accident was not caused by physical condition of the road as there were clear warning signs at different spots of the road.
He, however, said the ill-fated double-decker bus was old, equipped with GPS system and never got involved in an accident, but it has not been examined by inspectors of the Land Transport Department for the mid-year inspection.
The driver, he said, drove the bus at a speed of 83 kmh which was within the speed limit. But because the road was heading downhill which was not so steep, he said the speed should not exceed 60 kmh.
To prevent future accident 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.
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.