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Law enforcement, technology can cut passenger-van accidents, say experts

STRICT LAW enforcement and the use of technology can reduce public transport accidents in the long term, academics say.

Speaking at a public seminar “The Way to Reform after Passenger Van Accident” in Chulalongkorn University yesterday, former transport minister Chatchart Sitthipan said that the technology of GPS monitoring, combined with strict regulations and enforcement, was proven to decrease accidents in inter-provincial buses by 80 per cent.
“Thai people usually rely on spiritual power to have a safe journey, but we still do not really use technology to prevent accidents. I believe in scientific solutions for the problem and the GPS technology has already been proved to efficiently prevent accidents in buses from a project during my time in the office,” Chatchart said.
He explained that since 2013, all buses were installed with GPS to monitor the bus and the driver’s driving behaviour. The GPS can detect the speed of the bus and how the driver operates the bus. The information is reported to the central command centre and officers monitor every bus 24 hours.
If drivers are found to be driving too fast or dangerously, officers can warn the driver immediately. Moreover, if drivers repeat their mistake, they will be fined or their licences will be revoked.
“This makes the bus drivers more careful and greatly reduces accidents by 80 per cent. This can be adapted with passenger vans too, because they also drive on the fixed route,” he said.
“I am glad to hear that the Land Transport Department will install GPS in all passenger vans within this March.”
Assoc Prof Saksith Chalermpong, a lecturer at the Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Engineering, said that research conducted jointly by his university and the Land Transport Department found that vans were not appropriate vehicles for public transport.
“Statistics show the public-van accident rate is five times higher when compared with single-decker bus,” he said.
He said his university had proposed that van transport should be available in cities only. “For inter-provincial routes, vans should be replaced by minibuses,” he said.
Chulalongkorn University submitted its proposal to the government last October, he said.
Komsan Maleesee, dean of the Faculty of Engineering King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, agreed that vans were not designed to transport people, but were intended to carry items.
The popularity of using vans as a passenger transport vehicle in Thailand was very high because of its flexibility and convenience, even though the structure of the van was not fit for carrying people, he said.
“A van has only one exit, so it is very hard for the passengers to get off the vehicle when an accident happens,” Komsan said.
“All vans need to have an emergency exit and GPS installed in order to limit the speed of the van and control driver behaviour. The authorities should also create van resting areas for van drivers to rest and check the readiness of the vehicle.”
He stressed that regulations were also needed on van modification to prevent an overload problem, which can affect the van’s stability.
He emphasised that all vans need to have safety belts in every seat, have a firm vehicle structure and have strong seat joints to ensure the safety of the van.
“Passenger vans should not use liquefied petroleum gas [LPG] as a fuel because it is heavier than air and when it leaks it will drift all around the floor and is very easy to catch fire. The van should use Natural Gas Vehicles, because NGV is lighter than air and is safer than LPG,” he said.


Published : January 06, 2017

By : Ketkan Boonpen, Pratch Rujivanarom The Nation