THE Department of Land Transportation today (April 10) told public vans nationwide to immediately reduce the number of seats to 13, Thai News Agency said.
These vans were told that the law on this issue will be enforced from tomorrow and those flouting it face arrest and/or fine.
This comes after a police about-face on a ban on traveling in the cabs and beds of pickup trucks last week upon being hit by social uproar. Police agreed to relax the ban until after Songkran but did not say when they will impose it again and will instead just give warnings for the time being.
However the seat belt rule remains in place.
According to Wikipedia, studies of accident outcomes suggest that fatality rates among car occupants are reduced by between 30 and 50 percent if seat belts are worn.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that death risks for a driver wearing a lap-shoulder seat belt are reduced by 48 percent. The same study indicated that in 2007, an estimated 15,147 lives were saved by seat belts in the United States and that if seat belt use were increased to 100 percent, an additional 5,024 lives would have been saved.
Top: The interior of a Thai public van. Photo: Thai News Agency