So far the accident, which involved six vehicles, including a tour bus carrying 24 passengers, has not resulted in any fatalities, but has left dozens injured with two people still in hospital in serious condition. (See story here.)
Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong and Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) Chief Banyat Kantha inspected the scene of the accident on the notorious hill today (Aug 7).
PLTO Chief Banyat revealed that the GPS installed in the bus confirmed the vehicle was travelling at 56km/h as it rapidly descended the hill.
“The tourists on the bus reported that when they were at the top of the hill, the bus was travelling at high speed. The passengers were frightened. It was negligence of the driver that caused the accident, and he is still in the care of the hospital because of severe injuries,” he said.
In response, Mr Banyat said that buses traveling from other provinces will undergo inspections, including safety checks of the brakes, at the Phuket Checkpoint as they arrive on the island at Tha Chatchai.
If approved by the government, there will be electronic scanning devices in the area before Patong Hill. Buses approved to enter Phuket will be allowed through the electronic scans, Mr Banyat said.
“If the bus is not approved at Tha Chat Chai, this will be recorded electronically and the bus will not be allowed to travel over Patong Hill but must change to another route,” he said.
Buses registered in Phuket will undergo safety inspections by the PLTO every six months, he noted.
In addition, on the hill itself, authorities will create “emergency escape lanes” for drivers to use in case of brake failure, Mr Banyat added.
Exactly where the “escape lanes” will be installed so that runaway vehicles could slow down was not clarified.
Driver training will take some form, said the PLTO chief, explaining that compulsory video instruction explaining to drivers how they are to drive their vehicles safely over the dangerous hill will also be introduced.
These projects, including the emergency lanes are expected to be completed before the high season in November, said Mr Banyat.
Governor Norraphat ordered the safety measures to be given top prioity.
“These changes are being implemented as soon as possible, as we value all life, especially tourists who travel to Phuket who want to enjoy the tourism – not to throw away their lives needlessly in accidents here in Phuket,” he said.