Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: One of the most startling revelations to arise from the bus crash on Phuket's Chalong-Kata Hill was a policeman telling the Phuket Gazette that there is no provision in law for police to lay charges against a bus owner and/or management company for vehicle malfunctions, such as brake failure.

This is why bus, van and truck drivers who crash in Phuket simply flee the scene whenever they can. Regardless of whether or not the accident was their fault, they will almost surely be blamed.

It seems the authorities have yet to figure out which course of action to take with the October 22 horror crash, which killed one tourist and injured many more. On the surface, it would be all too easy to simply blame the driver and close the file.

[For photos and details of this spectacular crash, see page 3 of the current issue of the Phuket Gazette. Digital subscribers click here to download the full newspaper.]

Brake failure is easily the most common reason given for accidents on Phuket’s steep roads. Was it that again? If it was, it would be the responsibility of the person(s) in charge of vehicle maintenance, not the driver. Thus the predicament facing the police.

Maintenance is one of the first things to go when management feels compelled to cut costs. The Paddington rail disaster in London in 1999, in which 31 people were killed and more than 520 injured, highlighted the problem. Was management at British Rail charged with “killing to save cash”? No.

Many bus and van crashes in Phuket lead to a long chain of mitigated responsibility, the chain in many instances likely to have been created for that purpose. The hapless Chinese tourists on the bus on October 22 had booked their tours with an agent in China, then on arrival were handed off to a local tour operator who hired a bus from a company which, in turn, had subcontracted an “independent operator” to provide the transport.

Often, though not in this particular case, the further investigators go down the line, the worse it gets, so in the end no one is held accountable – except the driver. This is the person who, of all the people in the long and murky chain of “service” providers – corporate, nominal and human – probably had the least to gain to begin with.

Driver rewards in Thailand may or may not be commensurate with driving skills, but are almost surely out of balance with the risks, particularly in a culture where the concepts of insurance and responsibility remain alien in many quarters.

With anonymous and essentially untraceable ownership and management of so many buses, trucks and vans in Thailand, certainly one of the biggest risks faced by a freelance driver is the condition of the vehicle he is asked to risk so many lives in. Since one of those lives is his own, it is probably safe to assume that not all accidents are the driver’s fault.

Yet the police response is Pavlovian. It is rare indeed to encounter a media report in which the driver of a vehicle of any size is not charged with negligence and/or manslaughter following a fatal accident.

What is equally rare, however, is to hear of a conviction, but that is another matter entirely.
– Phuket Gazette

1

Maybe it's about time to change the Thai driving license test and make sure each one of the new drivers is taking it not buying it.

Another step must be the drug and alcohol test and suspend the driving licenses not just charging a ridiculous 1,000 baht fine.

Posted by gigi October 30, 2011 01:03:53PM

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2

What a waste of good copy space, PG. Why chase after a story that you already know the conclusion to? Nobody gets prosecuted for bus accidents; they get brushed under the carpet. This is the way it has always been and no one will change that. Driving tests are basically non-existent; vehicle tests are virtually non existent. This is the way it is – accept it as the Thais do.

Posted by Sceptical John October 30, 2011 01:29:06PM

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3

So presumably this 'no provision in law' also applies to passenger boats and aircraft in Thailand?

Posted by agogohome October 30, 2011 01:31:45PM

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4

In most countries, there are national, state and local regulatory agencies to oversee the care and maintenance of commercial passenger vehicles. However, hearing about some of the agencies now in Thailand and some of the "stuff" that goes on, would this be effective here? I would think not. It is too bad that companies cannot take personal pride and satisfaction for doing the "Right Thing." Sad, and true everywhere.

Posted by Anyse October 30, 2011 01:41:56PM

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5

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson October 30, 2011 01:44:41PM

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6

Somehow, I was under the impression that all buses and heavy trucks use air brakes. They function in a way that the brakes apply themsleves if any part of the system loses pressure and stops the bus or truck. For the brakes to not work at all, the system must be in such a sorry state that any responsible driver would not have risked to drive. Lag off, or wrong maintenance and irresponsible drivers fit the picture.

Posted by Geroge Yamamoto October 30, 2011 01:46:43PM

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7

Please start to use rules like we have in Europe. Every year, cars, buses and trucks have to go through a check to be approved!

Posted by Tomas Sahlin October 30, 2011 01:57:09PM

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9

All drivers, be they of a bus, van, truck or boat are responsible to check that the vehicle or vessel has had periodic/scheduled maintenance checks and services done before they operate such vehicle/vessel. If you don't and something happens then you only have yourself to blame. If there are no records, don't touch it, regardless.

Posted by Mango October 30, 2011 03:18:51PM

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10

I might also add, that these vans that are crashing are unlikely to be the result of bad maintenance as most of them would be near new. The drivers of these luxury tour vans would have to be the worst drivers I have seen anywhere. They seem to have their own rules for the road, and look out if you do not move for them. I have been in them twice now (some time ago) and will never sit in one again.

Posted by Mango October 30, 2011 03:29:27PM

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11

R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. Now there is a big word for many to look up the meaning of.

Posted by Norbit October 30, 2011 03:34:09PM

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12

Amazing Thailand. Nuff said.

Posted by Sandy Shores October 30, 2011 03:46:38PM

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14

With all the flooding problem plaguing Bangkok and nearby provinces, we may not expect too much financial and human resource help from the Central government for the coming years as it will need billions of dollars to rebuild the damaged provinces, including farming and the whole industry located in the industrial estates.

Posted by Whistle-Blower October 30, 2011 04:35:00PM

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16

Somehow, I was under the impression that all buses and heavy trucks use air brakes. They function in a way that the brakes apply themsleves if any part of the system loses pressure and stops the bus or truck. For the brakes to not work at all, the system must be in such a sorry state that any responsible driver would not have risked to drive. Lag off, or wrong maintenance and irresponsible drivers fit the picture.

Posted by Geroge Yamamoto

Nah, many buses in Thailand do not have functioning brakes – air or otherwise. There are a few expat posters here who just assume that because buses in the UK do, then buses in Thailand also do. Usually those expats are fairly recent arrivals. After a couple of years here, they learn that things are not the same as they are back home, and they calm down.

Posted by Brian Waters October 30, 2011 05:59:54PM

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17

The rules we have in the west will never be adopted here it's just that simple so let them get on with it .

Posted by Col Mustard October 30, 2011 06:49:34PM

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18

The thing is if you ask any Thai person, about the quality of driving skills in Thailand, 99 percent will reply and say, that they are all good drivers ??? That's what gets me ??? Safety is not an issue with most things in Thailand..That's for sure..

Posted by james October 30, 2011 07:32:44PM

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19

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson

Police don't do anything. It is the way they drive their own car.

Posted by ng October 30, 2011 08:26:47PM

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20

The road from britisch int.school too lochpalm ,on the hill concreet truck loos concreet why ? overloading !

Same Patonghill same problems overloading trucks, speedboat from phi island yesterday overloading in heavy wether !

The rich compagnys can do everything without control ?! no control system more accidents less tourist more problems !

Posted by donaldo October 30, 2011 08:45:32PM

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21

So presumably this 'no provision in law' also applies to passenger boats and aircraft in Thailand?

Posted by agogohome

Apparently so. Noone has yet to be charged with 90 deaths in the 1– 2 Go crash, even though indictments were promised by the authorities. The airline now operates under the name, Orient Thai. We residents all know the abysmal safety culture, but tourists are deliberately mislead that Thailand is safe.

Posted by Christy Sweet October 30, 2011 08:55:23PM

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22

R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. Now there is a big word for many to look up the meaning of.

Posted by Norbit

For sure it is. If I understand the right thing it's always the cars fault if you crash with a motorbike, and you can really see the driving of the cars that they make sure not to hit a motorbike.

Does that ´rule´ not apply the buses and trucks against cars and motorbikes?

Posted by Michael October 30, 2011 09:41:09PM

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23

We can see any time many crazy bus and minivan drivers around Phuket. why aren't they cheked at the chekpoints and only the motorbike drivers farang specially...?

Posted by Charly October 30, 2011 09:48:43PM

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25

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson

Couldn't agree with you more. I feel like I am being attacked by these scofflaw drivers. How about the "How am I driving" tel# on these Vans.
Reporting to the company may be better than relying on the Police.
Probably wouldn't answer the phone I assume.

Posted by Edward October 30, 2011 10:57:10PM

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27

Somehow, I was under the impression that all buses and heavy trucks use air brakes. They function in a way that the brakes apply themsleves if any part of the system loses pressure and stops the bus or truck. For the brakes to not work at all, the system must be in such a sorry state that any responsible driver would not have risked to drive. Lag off, or wrong maintenance and irresponsible drivers fit the picture.

Posted by Geroge Yamamoto

Nah, many buses in Thailand do not have functioning brakes – air or otherwise. There are a few expat posters here who just assume that because buses in the UK do, then buses in Thailand also do. Usually those expats are fairly recent arrivals. After a couple of years here, they learn that things are not the same as they are back home, and they calm down.

Posted by Brian Waters

Then how do the vehicle(s) manage to slow down or stop in a controlled manner if they do not have functioning brakes?

Is your answer to drive into an opposing force greater than the inertia generated by a 20/30/40 ton vehicle traveling between 10-100km/hr to stop it.

As a mechanical engineer with 30 years experience and living here for 9 years, you do not seem to have thought through your comment with any Knowledge

Posted by Jack Daniels October 31, 2011 03:56:44AM

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28

I would probably think that there are laws in place, but if you don't read Thai you wouldn't know anyway. You would probably think they aren't any.

Anyhow, in Phuket "tourists" plenty more where that came from, right? Let's allow the companies be named and shamed (against the law in Thailand).

Well, then the police can parade their big drug busts but as regard to enforcing the law... let's just have a little laugh...

Posted by Ty October 31, 2011 04:06:35AM

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29

Yes yes yes, all good suggestions, but who will control this ? The police ? The police who bring their kids to school by motorbike without wearing a helmet ? The police who passed me at the beach road in the wrong direction to the one way system ? The police who charges me 500 Baht instead of 300 Baht because I wear no helmet ?

Posted by Kathutanian October 31, 2011 09:15:55AM

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30

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson

Couldn't agree with you more. I feel like I am being attacked by these scofflaw drivers. How about the "How am I driving" tel# on these Vans.
Reporting to the company may be better than relying on the Police.
Probably wouldn't answer the phone I assume.

Posted by Edward

The idea with the "How am I driving tel no" sticker is great. With the number of the driver and the company owner would be fine.

Posted by Kathutanian October 31, 2011 09:20:06AM

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31

'Brake failure is easily the most common reason given for accidents on Phuket’s steep roads.'

More likely the most common excuse – it's likely down to poor driving skills more than mechanical failure. Just like parents taking no responsibility for under age kids driving motorbikes on the road - owners have no responsibility.

A friend of mine elsewhere in Thailand was hit by a 6 wheeler and nearly died but no prosecution.

Posted by Mister ree October 31, 2011 11:09:07AM

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32

The problem starts and ends on one point and this point is the police who do not do their work?

Posted by J. Johansson November 1, 2011 08:19:36AM

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33

The rules we have in the west will never be adopted here it's just that simple so let them get on with it .

Posted by Col Mustard

A Travel Advisory should be issued by Westernnations of the hazard of using all types of public transit and to verify with their personal health insurance of their specific coverage in a third world country that is listed on travel advisories.

Posted by Michael M. Arvin November 1, 2011 02:45:50PM

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33

The rules we have in the west will never be adopted here it's just that simple so let them get on with it .

Posted by Col Mustard

A Travel Advisory should be issued by Westernnations of the hazard of using all types of public transit and to verify with their personal health insurance of their specific coverage in a third world country that is listed on travel advisories.

Posted by Michael M. Arvin November 1, 2011 02:45:50PM

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32

The problem starts and ends on one point and this point is the police who do not do their work?

Posted by J. Johansson November 1, 2011 08:19:36AM

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31

'Brake failure is easily the most common reason given for accidents on Phuket’s steep roads.'

More likely the most common excuse – it's likely down to poor driving skills more than mechanical failure. Just like parents taking no responsibility for under age kids driving motorbikes on the road - owners have no responsibility.

A friend of mine elsewhere in Thailand was hit by a 6 wheeler and nearly died but no prosecution.

Posted by Mister ree October 31, 2011 11:09:07AM

Reply

0    0

30

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson

Couldn't agree with you more. I feel like I am being attacked by these scofflaw drivers. How about the "How am I driving" tel# on these Vans.
Reporting to the company may be better than relying on the Police.
Probably wouldn't answer the phone I assume.

Posted by Edward

The idea with the "How am I driving tel no" sticker is great. With the number of the driver and the company owner would be fine.

Posted by Kathutanian October 31, 2011 09:20:06AM

Reply

0    0

29

Yes yes yes, all good suggestions, but who will control this ? The police ? The police who bring their kids to school by motorbike without wearing a helmet ? The police who passed me at the beach road in the wrong direction to the one way system ? The police who charges me 500 Baht instead of 300 Baht because I wear no helmet ?

Posted by Kathutanian October 31, 2011 09:15:55AM

Reply

0    0

28

I would probably think that there are laws in place, but if you don't read Thai you wouldn't know anyway. You would probably think they aren't any.

Anyhow, in Phuket "tourists" plenty more where that came from, right? Let's allow the companies be named and shamed (against the law in Thailand).

Well, then the police can parade their big drug busts but as regard to enforcing the law... let's just have a little laugh...

Posted by Ty October 31, 2011 04:06:35AM

Reply

0    0

27

Somehow, I was under the impression that all buses and heavy trucks use air brakes. They function in a way that the brakes apply themsleves if any part of the system loses pressure and stops the bus or truck. For the brakes to not work at all, the system must be in such a sorry state that any responsible driver would not have risked to drive. Lag off, or wrong maintenance and irresponsible drivers fit the picture.

Posted by Geroge Yamamoto

Nah, many buses in Thailand do not have functioning brakes – air or otherwise. There are a few expat posters here who just assume that because buses in the UK do, then buses in Thailand also do. Usually those expats are fairly recent arrivals. After a couple of years here, they learn that things are not the same as they are back home, and they calm down.

Posted by Brian Waters

Then how do the vehicle(s) manage to slow down or stop in a controlled manner if they do not have functioning brakes?

Is your answer to drive into an opposing force greater than the inertia generated by a 20/30/40 ton vehicle traveling between 10-100km/hr to stop it.

As a mechanical engineer with 30 years experience and living here for 9 years, you do not seem to have thought through your comment with any Knowledge

Posted by Jack Daniels October 31, 2011 03:56:44AM

Reply

0    0

25

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson

Couldn't agree with you more. I feel like I am being attacked by these scofflaw drivers. How about the "How am I driving" tel# on these Vans.
Reporting to the company may be better than relying on the Police.
Probably wouldn't answer the phone I assume.

Posted by Edward October 30, 2011 10:57:10PM

Reply

0    0

23

We can see any time many crazy bus and minivan drivers around Phuket. why aren't they cheked at the chekpoints and only the motorbike drivers farang specially...?

Posted by Charly October 30, 2011 09:48:43PM

Reply

0    0

22

R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. Now there is a big word for many to look up the meaning of.

Posted by Norbit

For sure it is. If I understand the right thing it's always the cars fault if you crash with a motorbike, and you can really see the driving of the cars that they make sure not to hit a motorbike.

Does that ´rule´ not apply the buses and trucks against cars and motorbikes?

Posted by Michael October 30, 2011 09:41:09PM

Reply

0    0

21

So presumably this 'no provision in law' also applies to passenger boats and aircraft in Thailand?

Posted by agogohome

Apparently so. Noone has yet to be charged with 90 deaths in the 1– 2 Go crash, even though indictments were promised by the authorities. The airline now operates under the name, Orient Thai. We residents all know the abysmal safety culture, but tourists are deliberately mislead that Thailand is safe.

Posted by Christy Sweet October 30, 2011 08:55:23PM

Reply

0    0

20

The road from britisch int.school too lochpalm ,on the hill concreet truck loos concreet why ? overloading !

Same Patonghill same problems overloading trucks, speedboat from phi island yesterday overloading in heavy wether !

The rich compagnys can do everything without control ?! no control system more accidents less tourist more problems !

Posted by donaldo October 30, 2011 08:45:32PM

Reply

0    0

19

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson

Police don't do anything. It is the way they drive their own car.

Posted by ng October 30, 2011 08:26:47PM

Reply

0    0

18

The thing is if you ask any Thai person, about the quality of driving skills in Thailand, 99 percent will reply and say, that they are all good drivers ??? That's what gets me ??? Safety is not an issue with most things in Thailand..That's for sure..

Posted by james October 30, 2011 07:32:44PM

Reply

0    0

17

The rules we have in the west will never be adopted here it's just that simple so let them get on with it .

Posted by Col Mustard October 30, 2011 06:49:34PM

Reply

0    0

16

Somehow, I was under the impression that all buses and heavy trucks use air brakes. They function in a way that the brakes apply themsleves if any part of the system loses pressure and stops the bus or truck. For the brakes to not work at all, the system must be in such a sorry state that any responsible driver would not have risked to drive. Lag off, or wrong maintenance and irresponsible drivers fit the picture.

Posted by Geroge Yamamoto

Nah, many buses in Thailand do not have functioning brakes – air or otherwise. There are a few expat posters here who just assume that because buses in the UK do, then buses in Thailand also do. Usually those expats are fairly recent arrivals. After a couple of years here, they learn that things are not the same as they are back home, and they calm down.

Posted by Brian Waters October 30, 2011 05:59:54PM

Reply

0    0

14

With all the flooding problem plaguing Bangkok and nearby provinces, we may not expect too much financial and human resource help from the Central government for the coming years as it will need billions of dollars to rebuild the damaged provinces, including farming and the whole industry located in the industrial estates.

Posted by Whistle-Blower October 30, 2011 04:35:00PM

Reply

0    0

12

Amazing Thailand. Nuff said.

Posted by Sandy Shores October 30, 2011 03:46:38PM

Reply

0    0

11

R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y. Now there is a big word for many to look up the meaning of.

Posted by Norbit October 30, 2011 03:34:09PM

Reply

0    0

10

I might also add, that these vans that are crashing are unlikely to be the result of bad maintenance as most of them would be near new. The drivers of these luxury tour vans would have to be the worst drivers I have seen anywhere. They seem to have their own rules for the road, and look out if you do not move for them. I have been in them twice now (some time ago) and will never sit in one again.

Posted by Mango October 30, 2011 03:29:27PM

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0    0

9

All drivers, be they of a bus, van, truck or boat are responsible to check that the vehicle or vessel has had periodic/scheduled maintenance checks and services done before they operate such vehicle/vessel. If you don't and something happens then you only have yourself to blame. If there are no records, don't touch it, regardless.

Posted by Mango October 30, 2011 03:18:51PM

Reply

0    0

7

Please start to use rules like we have in Europe. Every year, cars, buses and trucks have to go through a check to be approved!

Posted by Tomas Sahlin October 30, 2011 01:57:09PM

Reply

0    0

6

Somehow, I was under the impression that all buses and heavy trucks use air brakes. They function in a way that the brakes apply themsleves if any part of the system loses pressure and stops the bus or truck. For the brakes to not work at all, the system must be in such a sorry state that any responsible driver would not have risked to drive. Lag off, or wrong maintenance and irresponsible drivers fit the picture.

Posted by Geroge Yamamoto October 30, 2011 01:46:43PM

Reply

0    0

5

Why am I not surprised? During my long stay in Thailand since 1979, I daily see mini bus drivers, bus drivers, tuk-tuk drivers, airport limo and taxi drivers, driving like maniacs, driving in back of your car 50cm from your car, driving on both left and right side of your car. They perform like a killing bullet. Police do not do anything about this problem. STOP this before more unlucky tourists die.

Posted by kenneth Oscarsson October 30, 2011 01:44:41PM

Reply

0    0

4

In most countries, there are national, state and local regulatory agencies to oversee the care and maintenance of commercial passenger vehicles. However, hearing about some of the agencies now in Thailand and some of the "stuff" that goes on, would this be effective here? I would think not. It is too bad that companies cannot take personal pride and satisfaction for doing the "Right Thing." Sad, and true everywhere.

Posted by Anyse October 30, 2011 01:41:56PM

Reply

0    0

3

So presumably this 'no provision in law' also applies to passenger boats and aircraft in Thailand?

Posted by agogohome October 30, 2011 01:31:45PM

Reply

0    0

2

What a waste of good copy space, PG. Why chase after a story that you already know the conclusion to? Nobody gets prosecuted for bus accidents; they get brushed under the carpet. This is the way it has always been and no one will change that. Driving tests are basically non-existent; vehicle tests are virtually non existent. This is the way it is – accept it as the Thais do.

Posted by Sceptical John October 30, 2011 01:29:06PM

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0    0

1

Maybe it's about time to change the Thai driving license test and make sure each one of the new drivers is taking it not buying it.

Another step must be the drug and alcohol test and suspend the driving licenses not just charging a ridiculous 1,000 baht fine.

Posted by gigi October 30, 2011 01:03:53PM

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0    0

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