Accident raises questions on bus safety


BANGKOK, 14 November, 2017: Double-deck tour buses, that were the subject of a Department of Transport investigation last year, were back in the news after a fatal accident at the weekend,

Thai PBS news channel broke the story saying a double- deck tour bus flipped on to its side when the driver lost control on a steep descent.

The driver blamed the accident on brake failure a common excuse that has been used to explain various tour bus accidents around the country.

One person was killed and 30 elderly tourists from Bangkok were injured. One of them remains in serious condition.

A convoy of three double-deck tour buses had been hired by Thai senior citizen groups, who had organised a tour of Petchabun province, a popular domestic tour destination noted for its national parks, hilly terrain and hill-top temples.

They had stopped the night in a resort in Khao Khor and were on their way back to Bangkok when the accident occurred.

According to the Thai PBS report three double-deck buses were descending the mountain, when one of them developed brake failure and flipped on one side in the centre of the road in Lomsak district.

Travellers should avoid double-deck buses if they intend to travel to areas of the country that have hilly, or mountainous terrain, They should not be used for travel to any of the popular tourist destinations in North Thailand and some areas of Northeast Thailand.

The Department of Transport was supposed to phase out the buses on all routes to North Thailand.

However, private companies still offer them for chartered tours. They are often contracted to tour operators who do not have their own fleet of buses.  It is wise to ask the tour operator offering overland tours what kind of bus it uses. Stick to the single-deck buses that are more robust and stable on windy mountain roads.

In South Thailand there has been a spate of tour bus accidents, many linked to alleged brake failure. Large tour buses are banned from using the hilly approach road to Patong Bay, Phuket, after three accidents earlier this year.

Drivers cited brake failure. Most of the incidents involved buses hired out to Chinese tour groups with accusations the buses were poorly maintained.