Lorry safety rules tightened after tragedy

The Transport Ministry has tightened safety measures for container lorries following Monday's accident that saw the driver of a van killed by a fallen container in Pathum Thani.

Speaking at an inspection of the Inland Container Depot (ICD) in Lat Krabang district yesterday, caretaker Transport Minister Chadchart Sittipunt said he told ICD staff and the Port Authority of Thailand to step up lorry monitoring as most lorries were found to have no locks for the containers which are placed on top of them.

The Department of Land Transport (DLT) has been assigned to work with highway police to check container locks on lorries, Mr Chadchart said.

The law specifies that violators will face 50,000 baht fines, he said. Repeat offenders could risk having their driving licences revoked.

According to Mr Chadchart, more than 70% of lorry drivers fail to fasten the containers to their vehicles, as they believe the whole lorry could be at risk.

In fact, the locks enable lorries to carry the weight of the containers properly, which reduces the risk of overturning, the minister said.

Mr Chadchart said such accidents commonly stem from speeding.

"The key reason why container lorries overturn is because of [driving at] excessive speeds beyond the legal limit," the minister said.

The DLT will ask transport operators to install global positioning system (GPS) devices in the lorries to monitor driving speeds and minimise the risk of accidents, he said.

According to the minister, only 100,000 out of 900,000 lorries in total are equipped with the GPS devices.

The accident on Monday took place at the Rangsit interchange when a container lorry grazed a guardrail, causing a container to fall off. It crushed the van on the outbound side of Phahon Yothin Highway.

Van driver Ronnachai Kidsom, 33, died instantly.

Yoo Chienyuenyongpong, chairman of the Land Transport Federation of Thailand, said the regulations stipulate that a lorry which carries a 12-metre container must have eight bottom locks to prevent the container falling from the vehicle.

According to a transport source, some operators believe there is a slim chance that containers will fall from lorries and are more worried about the lorries themselves.

If a container leans on one side, it could pull the lorry over, so the operators leave the containers unfastened to ensure their own safety, the source said.

Mr Chatchart, meanwhile, has instructed the State Railway of Thailand to work with the Department of Highways to find ways to link the ICD with a motorway to solve traffic congestion around the ICD. More than 1.3 million containers are transported from the ICD to Laem Chabang port in Chon Buri every year.

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