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Ravine bus tragedy spurs new safety measures

BANGKOK: The Transport Ministry said yesterday (Nov 23) that it intends to apply aviation-style safety practices, including strict limits on driving hours, to inter-provincial public buses.

accidents, death, transport,

Bangkok Post

Thursday 24 November 2016, 09:35AM

Rescuers work frantically to free 20 survivors from the bus crash that killed 20 retirees on an outing in Uttaradit province. Photo: Boonnam Kerdkaew
Rescuers work frantically to free 20 survivors from the bus crash that killed 20 retirees on an outing in Uttaradit province. Photo: Boonnam Kerdkaew

The promise was made in reaction to another multi-fatality bus crash on Tuesday (Nov 22). A bus plunged into a ravine in Uttaradit, killing 18 passengers and injuring another 20.

The new requirements are among a set of measures that Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith has ordered in response to the tragic incident.

He wants the state-owned Transport Co Ltd, which runs and provides concessions for inter-provincial buses, to adopt two new measures commonly used to ensure safety in the aviation industry.

First, bus drivers will be required to make trip plans, similar to a pilot’s flight plan, which include details ranging from routes to be travelled, stops and destinations.

The plans must be sent to Transport Co for examination to ensure proper precautions are being taken, he said.

Second, restrictions on driving hours will be applied to bus drivers to make sure they have enough rest, which should help reduce the incidence of accidents, he said.

At present, Transport Co Ltd only gives bus drivers a 30-minute break for every four hours of driving. Mr Arkhom said officials have been told to consider whether to review this practice, as that amount of rest time may not be enough.

The accident on Tuesday involved a bus, carrying 36 retired employees of CAT Telecom Plc, which was travelling downhill on a winding road on Khao Pueng while on its way from Phrae to Bangkok.

The driver and his assistant survived and were receiving treatment at a local hospital. The driver jumped from the bus just before it plunged into the ravine.

Police were waiting to talk to him about the accident.

There was evidence the driver, identified as Udon Summart, slammed on the brakes for 100 to 200 metres, showing he tried to stop the vehicle, Mr Arkhom said, citing an initial investigation.

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The 48-year-old driver has worked for Transport Co Ltd for 20 years and had never been involved in an accident.

The bus, which was hired for the special trip, had only been used for six years out of its expected 30-year lifespan.

Transport Co Ltd’s acting president Amnat An-atngam said the company was waiting for investigation results into the cause of the accident.

An initial examination of road conditions near the accident found the four-lane road met safety standards, he said.

However, Mr Arkhom instructed the Highways Department and Rural Roads Department to inspect hillside roads and routes prone to accidents nationwide as part of solutions to ensure road safety.

Officials must also install barriers at turns, place warning signs and even landscape areas surrounding some dangerous stretches of road, he said.

Since Nov 1, the Department of Highways has seized 215 lorries that exceeded weight limits and which were blamed for damaging roads, the transport minister said, adding most of them were 22-wheel trailers that were carrying rocks and sand.

The overloaded lorries are a cause for concern.

Once loaded with materials, they can weigh up to 115 tonnes, far beyond the legal limit of 50.5 tonnes, Mr Arkhom said.

Read original story here.



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Joe12 | 25 November 2016 - 20:29:58

ematt....LOL...yep totally agree with you again. 

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Kurt | 24 November 2016 - 18:46:49

@ ematt, As you can read comment of Nasa123, the thai Transport Minister also can consult his Norwegian colleague.

Level of expertise of the thai transport minister is not impressive, as we red in this article.
Not difficult to exceed his level of expertise. 

But no surprise, right? One day a tragic accident, next day all orders/rules ready to send out.
And who are going to follow these orders? Nobody, because there are no effective check & control systems in place.
Typical. Doing first, start thinking later.

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Nasa123 | 24 November 2016 - 13:32:00

Rules for drivers of heavy vehicles Daily driving time In Norway.
• The daily driving period cannot be more than 9 hours.
- Up to twice a week, you are permi ed to extend the period to 10 hours.
• A er driving a maximum of 4 hours and 30 minutes, you must take a 45-minute break. You may substitute this with two breaks lasting 15 and 30 minutes respectively. You may not spend the breaks doing other work.
Night rest
• Each day you must rest for at least 11 consecutive hours (or at least 3 + 9 hours).
• You may reduce night rest to 9 hours three times between two weekly rest periods.
Weekly driving period
• You can drive a maximum of 56 hours a week. The week begins on Monday at 00.00 hours and
runs until Sunday at 23.59 hours.
• If you drive two weeks in a row, the total driving time cannot exceed 90 hours.
Weekly rest
• You must rest for at least 45 hours a er six days of driving
• Every other week, under certain conditions, you can reduce this weekly rest period to 24 hours.

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ematt | 24 November 2016 - 12:36:07

What I cannot understand is this: Why doesn't the Transport Ministry consult with Kurt first before issuing these kinds of policies? Clearly, his level of expertise far exceeds their's....

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Kurt | 24 November 2016 - 11:57:47

A promise was made,... for what it may be, hahahaha
New orders and instructions are flying out immediately.
Many will be blown away by the wind and rain.

Drive plans like flight plans? Again talking before thinking.

30 Minutes rest for a bus driver after 4 hours driving?
Does the Transport Minister knows that just for sedan cars is the international standard: Minimum 15 minutes rest after 2 hours driving?
Guess a double decker bus driver, on Thai roads, should have a 30 minutes rest after 2 hours driving. 
Or, instead, have 2 drivers on 1 bus on routes were all these accidents take place.
And put a simple 'black box' in the busses, recording driving time and speed.
And start to educate the bus drivers not to say " brake failure", that sounds super dumb.
It just proves they have no technical knowledge of a bus they are driving. ( totally uneducated).

Again, we talk here about lost of human lives, life time injuries. Day in, day out.
Completely unneeded.
It is time they come up with other, more convincing lies.

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