BUS CRASH SITUATION IN THAILAND CASE STUDIES by rkw11276

VIEWS: 50 PAGES: 12

									Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


           BUS CRASH SITUATION IN THAILAND: CASE STUDIES
 Pichai TANEERANANON                                            Opas SOMCHAINUEK
 Associate Professor                                            Civil Engineer
 Faculty of Engineering                                         Bureau of Highways 15th Division
 Prince of Songkla University                                   Songkhla 90000 Thailand
 Hat Yai 90110 Thailand                                         Tel/Fax +66 74 312896
 Tel/Fax +66 74 446519                                          E-mail : drsomchainuek@yahoo.com
 E-mail : pichai.t@psu.ac.th


Abstract: Road accidents are global problems facing all countries with motorized forms of
transport and are on the increase in many developing countries including Thailand. The 2004
World Health Organization’s report indicates that in 2003 worldwide, an estimated 1.2 million
people were killed in road crashes and as many as 50 millions were injured. Projections
indicate that these figures will increase by about 65% over the next 20 years unless there is
new commitment for prevention. Road accidents cost countries between one and three percent
of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and road traffic accidents would emerge as the 3rd
leading cause of disease or injury burden in 2020 from its 9th ranking in 1990 (WHO 2004).
The latest road accident statistics from the Office of Thai National Police show that 91,623
accidents occurred in 2003 resulting in 13,209 deaths. Bus accident is a major public concern
in Thailand as they often involve the lives of innocent victims. This paper describes
characteristics and causes of bus crashes in Thailand. During the past 4 years (1997-2000),
3,000 bus accidents occurred on highways resulting in about 1,500 deaths. More than 50% of
these crashes were single bus accidents with overturning being the most common mode. The
main contributing factor was errant bus drivers (82.3%) with over speeding (71.9%) being the
number 1 cause. Three cases of fatal bus crashes were investigated. The results showed that
the 3 contributing elements: drivers’ errors, vehicle integrity and defects, and roadside hazards
combined to lead to the crashes and their severe consequences. Based on the findings of the
investigations, 3 remedial measures to prevent bus crashes and reduce their subsequent
impacts were recommended: 1) control of drivers’ competency and behaviours 2) improving
vehicle safety 3) safety management of roadside hazards.

Key Words: Bus Crashes, Bus Accidents, Casualties


1. INTRODUCTION

Road accidents are global problems facing societies with motorized forms of transport. The
2004 World Health Organization’s report indicates that in 2003, worldwide, an estimated 1.2
millions people were killed in road crashes and as many as 50 millions were injured.
Projections indicate that these figures will increase by about 65% over the next 20 years
unless there are new commitments for prevention. Road accidents cost countries between one
and three percent of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and road accidents would
emerge as the 3rd leading cause of disease or injury burden in 2020 from its 9th ranking in
1990 (WHO 2004). Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimated that in 2002 there were
75,000 people died and over 4.7 million were injured in road crashes in Southeast Asia
countries. In Southeast Asia (ASEAN), Thailand is the third leading countries with high rate
of deaths from road crashes behind Indonesia and Viet Nam respectively. Table 1 shows the
police reported deaths and injuries of road accidents in 2002 in ASEAN countries compared
to ADB estimates. The number of the police reported injuries were clearly underestimated.




                                                                                                   3617
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


                    Table 1. Road Accidents Statistics in ASEAN Countries, 2002

                         Estimated by ADB                     Police Reported                   Annual Economic
     ASEAN                                                                                            Losses
     Country            Deaths           Injuries         Deaths            Injuries             US$         % of
                                                                                                Million      GDP
   Indonesia   30,464   2,550,000       8,761       13,941                                       6,032       2.91
   Viet Nam    13,186     30,999       11,319       21,400                                        885        2.45
    Thailand   13,116   1,529,034      13,116       69,313                                       3,000       2.10
  Philippines   9,000    493,970         995         6,790                                       1,900       2.60
   Malaysia     6,282     46,420        6,282       46,420                                       2,400       2.40
   Myanmar      1,308     45,780        1,308        9,299                                        200        3.00
  Cambodia      1,017     20,340         824         6,329                                        116        3.21
   Lao PDR       581      18,690         415         6,231                                         47        2.70
  Singapore      211       9,072         211         7,975                                        457        0.50
 Brunei Dar.      28       1,273          28          645                                          65        1.00
     Total     75,193   4,745,578      43,259      187,343                                      15,102       2.23
    ASEAN
Source: ASEAN Region Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan 2004

Bus accidents are a major public concern in Thailand as they often involve the lives of
innocent victims (see Figure 1). It has been estimated that the number of bus accidents
constitute some 5% of road crashes in Thailand (Taneerananon and Cheewapattananuwong
2001). An estimated 1,500 people are killed in bus accidents each year with some 5,400
injured (Somchainuek 2002). In 2003, the number of bus accidents totalled 3,414 cases
(Office of the National Police 2004).




                                   Figure 1. Two Typical Bus Crash Scenes


2. ROAD CRASH SITUATION IN THAILAND


2.1 Magnitude of the Problem

Road accidents are the biggest public health burden in Thailand. In 2002, the annual cost of
road crashes to the country was about 120,000 million baht (3,000 million US$) or equivalent
2.10% of GDP of 5,700,000 million baht (Table 1) (Asian Development Bank 2004). The
number of fatalities from road crashes in 2003 was 13,209 a significant reduction from the
1995 figure of 16,727. Despite the decline in both the number of fatalities and crashes,
research carried out at the Ministry of Health (Santikan et al. 1998) show that road accident is
still ranked first as a cause of death in provincial hospitals. In summary, it can be said that for
the past decade (1997-2003) road traffic accidents have costs Thailand more than 1,000,000
million baht and 142,630 lives.


                                                                                                                    3618
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


Table 2 shows records of road crashes between 1994-2003. It is seen that, the number of
crashes show a decreasing trend from 102,610 cases in 1994 to a low of 67,300 cases in 1999
when Thailand suffered from a major economic collapse. Since then the crash number is on
the upward trend. Similar trend is apparent for the number of fatalities during the same period.

                       Table 2. Road Accidents Statistics for Thailand during 1994 – 2003

Year            Bangkok Metro                               Provincial                           Total
        Accidents      Deaths      Injuries     Accidents       Deaths      Injuries Accidents   Deaths   Injuries
1994 72,359 1,290 18,849 30,251 13,888 24,692 102,610                                            15,178   43,541
1995 64,469 1,284 21,697 24,898 15,443 29,021 94,362                                             16,727   50,718
1996 60,308 1,069 23,314 28,248 13,336 26,730 88,556                                             14,405   50,044
1997 54,324       903      20,933 28,012 12,933 27,718 82,336                                    13,836   48,711
1998 46,800       732      18,920 26,925 11,502 33,618 73,725                                    12,234   52,538
1999 40,178 1,718 20,681 27,622 10,322 31,857 67,800                                             12,040   52,538
2000 43,485 1,582 20,362 30,252 10,406 32,749 73,737                                             11,988   53,111
2001 45,711 1,519 22,854 31,905 10,133 31,106 77,616                                             11,652   53,960
2002 48,507 1,734 23,488 43,116 11,382 45,825 91,623                                             13,116   69,313
2003 46,806 1,491 23,597 48,386 11,718 50,555 95,192                                             13,209   74,152
Source: Bureau of Traffic Safety, Department of Highways (2004).


2.2 Road Users Involved.

Table 3 shows the type of vehicles involved in road accidents. It is seen for the past two year,
Motorcycle, car and pick up are the majority of vehicles involved in crashes. They account for
79.6% of total crashes in 2003

                  Table 3. Types of Vehicles Involved in Road Crashes 2002 – 2003

Rank          Type of Vehicles                2002                          2003
                                    Vehicle             %           Vehicle        %
  1     Motorcycle                  53,732            36.68          52,643      37.65
  2     Car                         39,279            26.08          34,565      24.72
  3     Pick up                     26,116            17.34          24,042      17.20
  4     Taxi                         4,790             3.15           4,138       2.96
  5     Big Truck                    4,523             3.00           4,421       3.16
  6     Big bus                      3,823             2.54           3,414       2.44
  7     Van                          3,291             2.19           2,907       2.08
  8     Truck (6 wheel)              3,220             2.14           2,905       2.08
  9     Bicycle                      2,584             1.72           1,973       1.41
 10     3 wheel paratransit          1,825             1.21           1,576       1.13
 11     Tri Shaw                      607              0.40            740        0.53
 12     Farm vehicle (E-tan)          356              0.24            320        0.23
 13     Others                       6,504             4.32           6,168       4.41
                 Total             150,600             100          139,813       100
Source: Police Information Centre, Office of the National Police 2004


2.3 Urgency of the Problem

Even though the road crash problem is well known in the country, it was not until 1995 that
Thai government through the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC)
commissioned the development of a Road Safety Master Plan and a Road Traffic Accident
Information System; Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand Prime Minister and his Government
regards this problem to be of great urgency and has accorded it high priority in the national
agenda. To deal with this crucial problem, the Government has established a Road Safety


                                                                                                             3619
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


Operations Centre encompassing the different sectors of the country and comprising the
government agencies concerned, nongovernmental organizations and civil society. The Centre
has undertaken many injury prevention initiatives, including a “Don’t Drink and Drive”
campaign as well as a campaign to promote the use of day time running light for motorcycles.


3. BUS CRASHES


3.1 The Number of Bus Crashes

Despite the high number of road crashes involving private vehicles, crashes involving public
transport are a major source of concern to the travelling public particularly on intercity
journeys. The Department of Land Transport which oversees the operation of bus transport is
also very much concerned about bus safety, despite its rather passive approach to the problem.

The number of bus accidents has been declining since 1995, significant reductions occur from
1995 onwards. Table 4 gives the trend in bus crashes during 1995-2003 periods. Official
records do not give account of fatalities or injuries from the bus accidents.

                           Table 4. Total Number of Buses Involved in Crashes

                  Year                          Number of buses
                  1995                               5,510
                  1996                               4,999
                  1997                               4,414
                  1998                               3,717
                  1999                               3,343
                  2000                               3,533
                  2001                               3,618
                  2002                               3,823
                  2003                               3,414
        Source: Bureau of Traffic Safety, Department of Highway (2003)


3.2 The Transport Company Bus Crashes

Table 5 shows road crashes involving buses of the Transport Company, a semi government
enterprise which holds all the long distance route licenses, and its affiliates’ buses. It can be
seen that although the number of accidents, fatalities and injuries figures have declined
substantially during 1977 – 2000 when the total number of crashes went down from 513 to
333; fatalities from 198 to 120, and injuries 1007 to 634; the downward trend appears to have
ended in 2000 when all the indicators showed a significant increase in 2001. The number of
crashes, fatalities and injuries went up to 493, 196 and 1,157 respectively.




                                                                                                3620
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


              Table 5. Accident Statistics of the Transport Company and its Affiliates
                            Buses during Financial Years 1997 – 2001

           The Transport company         Affiliated buses           Total
Financial           buses
  year      No. Injuries Fatalities No. Injuries Fatalities No. Injuries Fatalities
          crashes                  crashes                  crashes
  1997      408     174     38       105       833      160   513   1,007  198
  1998      268     240     49        88       518      116   356    758   165
  1999      277     228     39        72       462      113   349    690   152
  2000      234     146     45        99       498       75   333    634   120
  2001      342     358     31       151       799      165   493   1,157  196
Source: The Transport Company Limited 2002


3.3 Causes of Road Accidents


3.3.1 Police Records of the Causes of Accidents

The causes of road accidents are collected by police when investigating a crash. Table 6 gives
details of the causes of road accidents in 2001. The 3 major causes for the whole kingdom are:
Speeding (40%), Abrupt Cutting-in (25%) and Improper Overtaking (16%)

                                 Table 6. Causes of Road Accidents in 2001

                   Cause                       Whole Kingdom          Bangkok Metropolis
 Exceeding speed limits                            17,156                   7,658
 Abrupt cut-in                                     10,948                   6,023
 Improper overtaking                                6,982                   4,771
 Failure to indicate intentions                     3,703                   2,329
 Disregarding traffic signal/sign/Marking           3,654                   2,407
 Disregarding stop sign at intersection             2,717                   1,682
 Not keeping to the left                            2,061                   1,695
                    Total                          47,221                  26,565
 Source: Police Information Centre, Office of the National Police 2002


3.3.2 Bureau of Traffic Safety Records of the Causes of Accidents

Statistics from the Bureau of Traffic Safety, Department of Highways indicate that about 85%
of accidents that happened on highways under the responsibility of DOH were directly caused
by drivers exceeding speed limit or driving through red traffic signal; about 6% of accidents
were caused by drunk or drowsy drivers and about 3% by overloaded or defective vehicles.

The analysed results also revealed that for the period 1997-2000, 3,000 bus crashes occurred
on highways causing about 1,500 deaths. More than 50% of these crashes were single bus
accidents with overturning being the most common. Most of these crashes were due to
drivers’ errors, with speeding (71.9%) ranked highest. Also, from the interview with bus
drivers who experienced crashes, it was revealed that 52.5 % drove 4-6 hours without a rest
(Somchainuek 2002).


3.4 Major Bus Crashes as Reported in Newspapers

Major bus crashes are routinely reported in Thai newspapers. The Thairath newspaper which
claims to have the largest circulation in Thailand provides news clippings service at its news


                                                                                                3621
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


data centre in Bangkok for a fee. A key word in Thai, in this case ‘bus accident’ was given to
a staff member of the centre who then brought out files containing the relevant news clips.
The second author looked through the files for the reported cases of bus crashes for the year
2004. For 2004, there were 38 major bus crashes in Thailand, resulting in 67 fatalities and 584
injuries. Inter-city Category 2 buses were involved in 14 crashes, with the remainders
comprising 8 cases of Intra-province Category 3 buses, 8 tourist buses Table 7 gives details of
the casualties and types of crashes.

                                      Table 7. Major Bus Crashes in 2004

 Type of service         Number of Casualties                  Types of Crashes
                      Fatalities       Injuries       Hit other vehicle Single vehicle
  Category 2 bus         31              140                  4                 10
  Category 3 bus         16              285                  8                  8
    Tourist bus          20              159                  3                  5
Note: Category 2 bus runs between Bangkok and the provinces; Category 3 bus runs between
the provinces.

From the table it can be seen that single bus accidents constitute about 60% of the total. It
should be noted that in the case of Inter-City buses when the vehicle ran off the road and
rolled over or ran into a road side object, its roll over strength becomes a critical factor; in
many incidents the bus body was crushed by the force of impact.

The most serious bus crash in which there were 8 fatalities and 26 injuries took place in
December 2004 when a tour bus with 45 people on board ran off the road and fell about 10
meters, the crash occurred at 20.00 hr; speeding and bald tyres were cited as the causes of
accident.


4. CASE STUDIES OF BUS CRASHES

Three cases of single-bus accidents were investigated in order to identify the causes of crashes
and to recommend remedial measures.

Case 1

Date and time          : September 8, 2001, 11.00 am
Location               : Km. 27+650 Highway No.203 Amphoe Phurua Loei province
Casualties             : 17 deaths, 35 injuries
Type of crash          : Loss of control and collision with roadside hill
Source                 : Article from Thairath news clippings service and crash investigation report
                        of Loei Provincial Office of the Department of Highways

The case involved a category-3 intra provincial bus that overturned on September 8, 2001,
killing 17 passengers and seriously injured 35. The accident took place on an undivided two-
lane stretch paved with asphalt concrete, during fine weather and on dry road. The road
segment curves up a mountain gradient of 7.5%. A number of Department of Highways-
standardized signs had been in place to warn motorists of poor visibility around the bends.
The crash wreck was found in the following conditions: the roof had caved in and torn off in
parts; some passenger seats dislodged from the floor; left front and rear tyres had bald treads
(Figures 2, 3 and 4). The driver, who had been employed for only one month, said that he
drove the bus, which carried some 50 passengers, from Petchaboon heading for Loei at a high
speed. When the vehicle was on a bend, he applied the brakes abruptly causing the bus to
overturn. Many of the injured passengers, however, reported that the driver had been having
heated arguments with his wife who had ridden along until he told her to get out of the bus; he
was highly irritated and tense. The emotional state of the driver rendered him unfit for driving
and being new to the job, the driver also lacked experience about the terrain conditions. These
characteristics, coupled with the driver’s agitated mood and the apparent non-sturdiness and

                                                                                                3622
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


defects of the vehicle, led to the fatal crash.




   Figure 2. Bus Crash at Km. 27+650 Highway No.203 in Amphoe Phurue, Loei Province




   Figure 3. Shorn off Roof, Dislodged Seats                                  Figure 4. Over-worn Tyres

That the bus was less than roadworthy was evident from its crumpled body, shorn off roof,
dislodged seats and over-worn tyres. To ensure the road worthiness of buses, the Department
of Land Transport (DLT) will have to inspect vehicles with increased stringency in regard to
the safety features of buses; for example, seat-belts, strength of seats, roof, window frames,
glazing, emergency doors, and brakes. DLT should adopt the UNECE regulations as
guidelines             for           developing              a           safety            module
(http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs61-80.html). Relevant Regulations of
UNECE are cited here as examples: Regulation 66 deals with the strength of the
superstructure of large passenger vehicles including the bus roof; Regulation 14 concerns
seat-belts (DLT may initially require all new buses to have seat-belts fitted while allowing a
grace period for older vehicles to be retrofitted with belts); Regulation 80 is about the strength
of passenger seats (In many crashes, and a typical case is shown in Figure 3, seats are often
found to dislodge from the floor, or squashed flat against it. Seat frames are fabricated from
light steel tubes which are inadequate. Cushions are not fastened to the seat frames and tend to
fall off during an accident, thereby failing to mitigate injury to passengers).

Case 2

Date and time                     : July 21, 2004, 7.30 am
Location                          : Rungsit-Lumlukka Road. Lumlukka Pathum Thani
Bus passenger casualties          : 1 dead, 27 injuries
Type of crash                     : Loss of control, Run off road
Source                            : Article from Thairath newspaper; crash investigation report of


                                                                                                          3623
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


                                    Transport Safety Operation Centre, Ministry of Transport

The crash involving a school bus occurred on the early morning (7:00 am) of July 21, 2004 at
Km 24+600 of Highway 3312, section 0101 in the district of Lamlukka, Pathum Thani
province (Figure 5). The school bus in question was delivering students to the Nawamin
School in the Pathum Thani township. The vehicle went out of control, veered off the road,
and overturned, leaving a student dead and 27 injured. Crash site investigation established
that: the 41-year-old driver, who held a Type-2 Driver’s License, had been having health
problems involving muscular weakness in the limbs; the road where the crash occurred was a
straight, undivided segment, paved with asphalt; the pavement was dry and smooth; the day
was bright and clear; the crash vehicle was of the 2A standard, registered on May 14, 1997,
was last inspected on September 30, 1999; the vehicle belonged to Theprangsi Transport Ltd,
a company whose transport operating license expired on June 15, 2002 and had not been
renewed. The bald tyres indicated that the bus was defective (Figure 6). It was clear that the
crash occurred as a result of defect in all the 3 elements of a classic chain of event. The unfit
physical conditions of the driver with poor health, the weakness and defects of the bus, as
exposed the crash had exacerbated the degree of injury to the victims (Figure 7). The
unforgiving roadside with steep slope also played a critical role in the consequence of the
crash.




                                    Figure 5. Wreckage of the Crashed Bus




    Figure 6. Interior of the Bus after Crash                                    Figure 7. Bald Tyres

Case 3

Date and Time            : September 6, 2004, 7.30 am
Location                 : Hat Yai – Songkhla Province
Bus passenger casualties : 5 deaths, 101 injuries


                                                                                                        3624
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


Type of crash                     : Loss of control and Run off road
Source                            : Article from Dailynews Newspaper; crash investigation report of
                                    Bangklum District Police Station, Songkhla Province

Investigation was made of a bus crash on the morning of September 6, 2004 at km 20+000 on
Highway 41(Figure 8). The vehicle in question was licensed as a category 3 intra provincial
express bus. When the accident occurred, the bus was being overloaded with 106 passengers,
a number far exceeding the allowable load of 46 passengers. The road where the crash took
place was a 4-lane divided highway. Prevailing weather was fine; the road was dry. The bus
careened onto the median, hit a lamp-post and a tree, plunged into the drain and struck the
concrete box culvert. The crash left 5 of the passengers dead and the rest injured in varying
degrees.

Inspection and enquiries made at the crash site established that the bus had been travelling at a
speed of over 100 kph. The bus driver had been showing a reckless behaviour, including
speeding and tail-gating other vehicles, along the way. On the run-up to the crash, he was
racing against another bus at high speeds. Seeing that the road ahead was obstructed by a
heavy truck, he slammed hard on the brakes and the vehicle skidded off the road. It was noted
that the crash was the second one that happened to the very same bus. Just a couple of months
earlier, a crash of this bus had left 10 passengers dead. The driver in the second accident had
been driving buses for less than a month.




        Figure 8. Bus crash at Km. 20+000 Highway 42 (Rattapum – Hat Yai, Songkhla)

The bodies of the driver and the deceased passengers were found smashed against the concrete
box culvert by the impact of the collision. Passenger seats were dislodged by the impact and
struck the fallen passengers (Figure 9). It was evident from this case that the integrity of the
vehicle body would play a crucial role in reducing the number of casualties.




                                 Figure 9. Interior of the Bus after the Crash


                                                                                                 3625
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


5. RECOMMENDED REMEDIAL MEASURES FOR BUS CRASH PROBLEM

From the above case studies of bus crashes, it is clear that the three contributing factors,
driver, vehicle and road need to be addressed. The following measures are proposed. They
cover areas of driver behaviour and fitness, vehicle safety, road environment improvements,
with no mention of traffic law enforcement as it is an essential component of road safety.
.

5.1 The Driver Factor

Competency and Behavioural Controls

A stricter driving test and monitoring is suggested. Under the Land Transport Act, applicants
are required to pass 38 of the 50 questions or 75%. It is noted that applicants for a public
vehicle license need not have prior experience in driving, they only need to be 22 years of age
which was recently reduced from 25 and if they do not possess junior high school certificate
(9 years at school) they are required to sit for a one day training organized by the Department
of Land Transport and pass the written and simple practical tests on the second day. For those
with 9 or more years of education, only about half a day is required for training, this is then
followed by written and practical tests in the afternoon of the same day. The simple driving
tests are conducted off roads usually in a small compound. Thus theoretically, new drivers
who pass the test can go on the road the next day with little or no experience on the actual
driving on the road. There is therefore a clearly needed improvement in the issue of driving
license for public transport vehicles. Driving experience should be made a requirement in
addition to competency in driving.

The requirements for bus drivers in the US are described here by way of an example of
Metropolitan. Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). The basic requirements for
becoming a MARTA bus operator include a high school diploma or equivalent and 2 years of
experience operating commercial vehicle. The special classification requirements include the
following: age: at least 25 years old; height: 5 ft 2 in. minimum, 6 ft 4 in. maximum.

Regarding the physical condition, candidates must pass a MARTA paid physical examination
tests and must pass a set of test questions. Commercial driver’s license (CDL) License must
hold a valid and be able to obtain a bus Operator Police Permit from the Atlanta Police
Department. As for the employment record, the candidate must have a favourable job history
and satisfactory reference (Hanley 1999).

Data obtained from interviews with 343 Thai bus drivers indicated that most have had
minimal education. Over 65% of the drivers interviewed have completed no more than
primary schooling. About 28% have passed secondary schools. Only 0.9% holds college
degrees. Most of them started out on the job as bus conductors and progressed to drivers after
a few years. They rely on the driving skills learnt on the job, but have never received any DLT
training on safe bus driving (Somchainuek 2002).

More than 25% of the interviewees never had any medical check-up. Most of them have had
only one check-up; that was when they needed a doctor’s certificate for the application of a
commercial vehicle driving license. More than 80% asserted that they are in good health and
going for a check-up would be a waste of time and money. To tackle the issue of driver’s
physical fitness, DLT should establish regulations to mandate yearly medical check-ups to be
provided for the employees of transport operators. Regular checkups are crucial because most
commercial transport drivers are in the 40 to 50 years age range, the time when the
responsiveness of their psycho-motor functions begins to decline, in particular, the eyesight.
At present, only the Transport Company arranges free annual health checks for all of their bus
drivers.


5.2 Vehicle Safety


                                                                                                3626
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


In Crash situation the integrity of the whole bus body including its interior becomes critical.
Regulation on critical aspects of bus safety to render it crashworthy should be locked in to by
the Thai government. These aspects include installation of safety belts, seat strength, roof
strength anti-locked brakes. The UN ECE regulations can be used as guidelines to develop
these regulations For example UN ECE regulation 66 which deals with roof strength should
be looked in to by the Thai government as many bus crashes has manifested that the roof
caved in on passengers; installation of seat belts in new buses or retrofitting existing buses
would improve safety of passenger in a cost-effective manner during crashes of sudden
braking and should also be made a requirement (Figures 10, 11).




    Figure 10. Interior of the Bus after Crash                              Figure 11. Shorn off Roof




     Figure12. Roof – Bus Body Connection                                     Figure 13. Worn out Tyres

Bus Safety Technology

It is clear from the survey, the Transport Company and police records that speeding is a major
cause contributing to bus crashes. It thus seems appropriate that serious measure should be
taken to address the problem of speeding. Tachograph, a device used to record speed and
duration of journey should be made a requirement for all long distance buses.


5.3 Improving the Road Environment


Safety Management of Roadside Hazards



                                                                                                          3627
Journal of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies, Vol. 6, pp. 3617 - 3628, 2005


Many of the single bus accident could have been avoided or at least reduced in severity if the
road were well designed and managed. For instance in December 2004, a tour bus with 45
people on board ran off the road and fell about 10 meters, 8 fatalities and 26 injuries. Another
accident in which 6 people were killed and 101 injured occurred in September 2004 when a
tour bus skidded off the road and hit a box culvert. A “forgiving roadside” could have averted
the tragedy. Thus a good roadside hazard management program should be designed and
implemented by the Department of Highways and other concerned authorities.


6. CONCLUSIONS

The paper describes the overall road crash situation in Thailand; it gives account of bus crash
problem and its causes; and three case studies of fatal bus crashes. The authors recommended
three remedial measures to deal with the problem. These measures address the issues of
drivers’ competency, vehicle safety and management of roadside hazard.


                                           ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors express their sincere thanks to Khun Preecha Choosap, Chief safety officer of
transport safety operation centre, Office of Transport and Traffic Policy and Planning,
Ministry of Transport for providing photographs and detailed account of Case 2 bus crash.


                                                   REFERENCES

Asian Development Bank (ADB) http://www.adb.org/Documents/News/2004/nr2004155.asp

Department of Highways (2004) Traffic Accidents on National Highways 2003.

Hanley, P. (1999) Bus driver Fatigue and Stress Issues Study. Final Report. Federal Highway
Administration, Washington, DC.

Office of the National Police (1999) Road Accident Report for 1998.

Office of the National Police (2004) Road Accident Report for 2003.

Santikan et al. (1998) Thailand Accidents and Disasters Statistics.

Somchainuek O. (2002) A Study of Bus Accident in Thailand. Master Thesis, Faculty of
Engineering, Prince of Songkla University.

Transportation Research Board (2001) Effective Practices to Reduce Bus Accidents. National
Academy Press, Washington D.C.

Taneerananon, P. and Cheewapattananuwong, W. (2001) Bus Safety in Thailand. Jour of
REAAA, Vol 8, No 2 pp 22-33.

World Health Organization (2004) World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. Geneva.

UNECE - Transport Division - Vehicle Regulations - Addenda to the 1958 Agreement (Regs_
61 - 80): http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp29/wp29regs61-80.html




                                                                                                3628

								
To top