There seems to be a known explanation. I quote from Composition, Structure, Dynamics, and Evolution of Saturn’s Rings, Larry W. Esposito (Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 2010.38:383-410):
[The] rapid collision rate explains why each ring is a nearly flat disk. Starting with a set of particle orbits on eccentric and mutually inclined orbits (e.g., the fragments of a small, shattered moon), collisions between particles dissipate energy but also must conserve the overall angular momentum of the ensemble. Thus, the relative velocity is damped out, and the disk flattens after only a few collisions to a set of nearly coplanar, circular orbits.
I think the key is that particles in a thick ring would not move in parallel planes but would have slanted trajectories, colliding all the time and losing their energy very fast.