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5 die, 53 injured as bus plunges into ravine in Phitsanulok, Thailand

Posted by Xircal on 8/4/2013 at 07:12

5 people died and another 53 were injured when a tour bus travelling from Udon Thani to Chiang Mai, Thailand plunged into a ravine in Phitsanulok early today. Full story and pictures of the mangled wreckage here:

#1 Xircal has been a member since 24/12/2012. Posts: 95
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Posted by chinarocks on 8/4/2013 at 08:05

A truly awful story...RIP and get well soon to the injured.

Does this kind of thing happen often in Thailand? I know MADMAC often mentions how bad the driving is in Thailand but I would have thought it was a safer place to travel by road than, say, Vietnam or Cambodia.

#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by sayadian on 8/4/2013 at 09:10

The driving in Thailand seems a lot more ordered than Cambodia and a lot less aggressive than Vietnam. This terrible accident sounds like it could be attributed to brake failure. Lack of proper maintenance is often a causative factor in this part of the world.
Do the Thais stick those gruesome aftermath pictures in the newspapers? The Cambodian press seem to relish them. If it's meant to be a deterrent it doesn't work.

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Posted by Brute on 8/4/2013 at 10:26

I took an overnight bus in Thailand a few years ago. At around 4 we hopped a curb and sideswiped a tree. It could have been alot worse if it was due to the driver sleeping. I'm no expert but I do recall seeing 2 drivers on an overnight bus once. One was a relief and i believe took over around midnight. Could be wrong as it was almost 5 years ago now

#4 Brute has been a member since 16/12/2012. Posts: 36

Posted by wanderingcat on 8/4/2013 at 10:44

paging for Captain it me or does this particular route (CM-Udon) seem to have more than its fair share of bus accidents? can't dig up the links to the past posts on this topic (on Thorntree, but think there was mention on ThaiVisa forum, maybe Udonmap forum too?) so can't check if previous accidents on this route in recent years also involved Jakkrapong Tour.

my (& my friends') long distance overnight bus rides in Thailand (BKK-Chiangmai/Chiangrai by Transport Co./Sombat Tour Co. & BKK-Isaan by Transport Co.) over the years have been good & incident-free so far. at least one of these 2 companies uses 2 drivers for the long routes. though have seen the wreckage of a bus sitting along the BKK-CM route at Doi Ti near Lamphun, & from time to time there are gory photos of the aftermath of crashes involving long distance buses in the Thai tabloids (think such news makes it to the English language press only if there are Westerners among the fatalities).

Songkran aka. Road Death Festival coming soon - time of the year to avoid long distance travel on Thai roads.

#5 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
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Posted by Captain_Bob on 8/4/2013 at 23:32

Don't know the accident history of this route, but have driven it plenty of times on motorbike and car. That section of Dan Sai - Nakhon Thai road is very hilly, twisty and lonely. Can see why it took a while for help to arrive. RIP the dead, get well soon the living.

#6 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,911

Posted by MADMAC on 9/4/2013 at 00:32

Not surprisingly there are a lot of causes for the high rate of bus accidents (and traffic accidents in general) in Thailand.

We can start with the fact that when Thais drive they become morons. And I'm not kidding. For whatever reason, when put behind the wheel a large percentage, maybe the majority, of the country make one bad judgement call after another. It boggles the mind. EVERY DAY I see moronic driving. When it comes to driving, Thais are just plain stupid. It's as simple as that.

On night buses this is compounded by the fact that it's night and driving ten hours through the night is bound to make people tired. On the VIP buses there are usually two drivers and they work together to keep each other awake. But on cheaper buses there is often only one.

Driving drunk is common. And so is using amphetemines. So sometimes substance abuse plays a role.

Bus drivers are under pressure to be on time. But they can not control road conditions. This often leads them to driving faster than is safe for the conditions.

The bottom line is I take the bus sometimes - but I hate it and recognize it's not the safest way to travel either. Out where I live, options are limited.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by sayadian on 10/4/2013 at 03:44

I think driving has improved in Thailand during the last couple of decades. I can remember riding on one of the old orange buses which chugged from city to city and were a cheap alternative to the tour buses. It wasn't unusual for the driver to be drinking Mekong whiskey at the wheel.
I vividly remember being on a bus and stopping for lunch.There was another driver in the restaurant and they shared a bottle of whiskey.
When the buses started off again it seemed they had prearranged a bus race and I found myself in a Thai bus grand prix. The conductors leaning out of the door shouting insults at each other. I remember we forced a truck and another bus off the oncoming lane onto the dirt.
I haven't seen this sort of behaviour in Thailand in years.
Vietnam is probably the worst I have experienced. Sheer madness like overtaking on blind bends with a precipice drop on one side. I have a 'if the bullet got your name on it' sort of philosophy. What else can you do?

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Posted by MADMAC on 10/4/2013 at 10:27

"I think driving has improved in Thailand during the last couple of decades."

There's a thought to keep you awake at night. It used to be worse!

"I haven't seen this sort of behaviour in Thailand in years."

How reassuring.

"Vietnam is probably the worst I have experienced. "

The Saudis for me. Though the Somalis came close - no police, no government, no licensing...

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by sayadian on 10/4/2013 at 13:12

Saudi is bad during Ramadan. Those who die during the fast get a free pass at the heavenly gates. Nothing like incentive.

If you've been to Vietnam you'll now what crazy driving is.

Italy and Russia are much worse than Thailand for sheer stupidity and machismo behind the wheel.
Saying that I would never risk a Thai night bus, you are right that tiredness is often a factor. I've had taxi drivers nod off on me in the wee hours. At least I had the chance to poke them awake!

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