Bus safety rules get a revamp

The Land Transport Department is looking to enforce regulations this month to ensure the safe operation of double-decker buses and strict screening of drivers.

The measures were confirmed on Tuesday by department chief Asdsathai Rattanadilok na Phuket amid growing concerns over the bus' safety after 29 people were killed and 23 were injured in an accident involving a double-decker bus in Tak on March 24.

The department has come up with proposals to increase safety, including tougher criteria for approving driving licences for drivers of double-deckers and the installation of more safety equipment on the buses.

Mr Asdsathai said the department wants to enforce the measures this month.

The department will announce when the measures take place and then they become legally binding to both vehicle makers and drivers, Mr Asdsathai said.

However, the department will give them a grace period of three to six months to prepare for the changes, he said.

Once the measures are announced, double-decker bus drivers will undergo retraining and they will have to apply for a new licence to drive the buses.

The new licence will involve tougher tests and drivers will also need to be examined to check if they are fit to drive.

As for the bus’ safety equipment, the department has set out safety features, including the anti-lock braking system, which allows drivers to stop the vehicles more effectively on slippery roads.

The department is also preparing to launch a new regulation limiting the height of double-decker buses to four metres.

Double-decker buses currently in service are 4.30 metres high.

Mr Asdsathai said the department is paying close attention to improving the stability of public vehicles after many public buses failed the vehicle balance test last year. This measure could help their ability to navigate hills and steep curves in the road.

The department has also asked the Highways Department and Rural Roads Department to survey roads nationwide to find those which are dangerous for the double-decker buses, Mr Asdsathai said after meeting representatives of the departments.

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