Crash spurs plan for double-decker ban

The Department of Land Transport has considered banning double-decker buses on hilly roads following an accident which killed 29 people and injured 23 others in Tak on Monday night.

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Department director-general Asdsathai Rattanadilok na Phuket said in a video conference with provincial transport offices nationwide that the department will initially ask for cooperation from operators of both scheduled and non-scheduled buses not to use double-deckers on hilly roads.

Mr Asdsathai was speaking yesterday after the deadly crash in Tak, which police blamed on possible human error and brake failure.

The accident happened on a downhill stretch between kilometre markers 15 and 16 on the Tak-Mae Sot road around 8.40pm. Four buses were taking local government workers and elderly people to Ubon Ratchathani and Laos for a field trip.

The ill-fated bus, a double-decker, was the last in the convoy.

Pol Col Man Rattanapratheep, chief of Mae Tor police in Muang district of Tak, said the driver, Thammanoon Kadpo, was not familiar with the road, having driven the route only three or four times.

The driver lost control of the bus, which crashed through the concrete barrier and fell into a 150m-deep ravine, Pol Capt Sittichai Panyasong of Mae Tho district in Tak province said.

Permanent secretary for Public Health Narong Sahametapat said 29 people on the bus were killed, 24 of whom died at the scene and the others later in hospital. Seven were males and 22 were females.

Twenty-three bus passengers were injured and are being treated at Somdet Phra Taksin Maharat Hospital and Buddha Chinarat Hospital in neighbouring Phitsanulok.

The injured suffered mostly from broken legs and arms.

One of them, a woman in her 30s, was in serious condition from a severe head injury. She underwent a surgery at the Buddha Chinarat Hospital and is on life support.

Mr Asdsathai said the double-deckers should operate only on roads which do not involve a drive up and down hills, and the vehicles’ speed should be strictly regulated.

He said the department will assess within three months if bus companies have cooperated and whether road safety has improved.

If not, the department will discuss with the Highways Department the possibility of enforcing a traffic law to ban double-deckers from roads which cut through dangerous terrain.

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