Monday, September 2, 2013

Thailand: Head-On Collision Between Tourist Van/18-Wheeler Kills Two Near Cambodian Border

According to The Bangkok Post, a group of foreign tourists rented a tourist van in Aranyaprathet, near the Cambodian border, in order to return them to Bangkok on Sunday afternoon (September 1). 

From initial reports, the driver of the van and a Taiwanese tourist, 54, were killed when the two vehicles collided, although some witness reports suggest that a US citizen was killed and not a Taiwanese.

Additionally, two German nationals, both 19, sustained critical injuries, internal injuries and fractures, according to Siriporn Haemah, an intensive care worker at Samdej Phrayuphraraj Hospital in Sa Keow province, 245 kilometers (150 miles) east of Bangkok.

COMMENT: I continue to emphasize with all travelers that road travel throughout Thailand is perilous, hazardous and risk-rich. As a result, flying COMMERCIALLY is almost always a safer way of getting from point A to point B, particularly over long distances.

Although roadway travel in Thailand is no doubt less costly, it almost NEVER is safer.

Roadway safety actually has escalated in recent years as roads have become even more clogged with traffic, causing motorists to engage in speed to shorten the duration of road trips.

As I have often said in previous postings, even commercial drivers are subject to inexperience, fatigue and pressure from passengers to increase their speed to reduce the duration of road trips.

Although lengthy road trips are arduous for passengers, they are even worse for drivers covering long distances which renders a driving distance of three hours as being comparable to six to eight hours. 

Another problem is the failure of the Royal Thai Police to engage in periodic inspections of vehicles in order to correct maintenance issues that can cause catastrophic accidents. 

To make matters worse, police do not use contemporary technology to maintain safe roadways as drinking while driving and excessive speed are almost NEVER cited.

What is not clear is whether the tourists initiated their travel in close proximity to the Cambodian border, as they all reportedly collectively decided to travel to Bangkok from Aranyaprathet on Sunday night.

According to witnesses, the tourists had visited the Cambodian temple complex of Angkor Wat, according to Major Boonnak Trachoo of the Sa Keow police.

From all indications, the van had attempted to overtake a vehicle that was turning into a gas station only to eventually hit the truck before be was safely back into his own lane.

The remaining nine passengers, all tourists, were injured, although some were released from the hospital earlier today (September 2).

The tourists reportedly included four US nationals, a French citizen, two Germans, one French national, one Hong Kong resident and a tourist from Taiwan.

The collision, which apparently occurred in front of a PTT NGV gas station on Highway No 359 (Khao Hin Sorn – Sra Kaew) in tambon Sra Kwan at about 1500 hours, according to THAI RATH, a local newspaper. 

Sa Kaeo has a long history, dating back to the Suwannaphum and Dvaravati Periods. The archeological sites of Khmer art and stone inscriptions are an a testament to the sophistication of art and architecture at the time.

Speculation on my part is inclined to suggest that the driver of the tourist van was simply "a warm body who happened to be available at the time" who may or may not have had a commercial license and perhaps little driving experience in judging distances on two-way roads. 

One final factor that may have contributed to this conclusion: If the driver of the van was from Cambodia, where they drive on the "right," he could very well have not been comfortable and experienced with driving on the "left" in Thailand.