BANGKOK, 13 December 2017: A Thailand foundation battling to reduce road fatalities has called on the government to enforce road safety laws in the lead-up to Christmas and New Year holidays.
Thailand’s Don’t Drink and Drive Foundation, director general, Thaejing Siripanit, told a seminar at the weekend that around 22,000 Thais will die on the roads in 2017 an average of 60 per day, but the daily toll will peak during the New Year holiday.
The foundation wants the government to introduce regulations forcing vehicle owners to install dash cams to record driving habits and bear witness to accidents, as well as shaming dangerous drivers.
Enforcing laws that are already on the books was cited as a priority to reduce deaths. Drunk driving and speeding are the two top causes for Thailand’s shameful road safety statistics. Police are failing to crackdown on speeding and drunk driving, while in the provinces it is common to see, three people on a motorcycle none of them wearing helmets.
The foundation quoted a November 13 World Atlas report on global road fatalities, worldwide, that claimed its latest research now placed Thailand top of a 30-country road death list.
But World Atlas was simply borrowing figures from earlier research in 2013, released by the World Health Organisation, that clearly placed Thailand as the deadliest spot on earth for road deaths.
WHO’s 2013 figures indicate Thailand topped the list with a 36.2 deaths per 100,000 followed by Malawi with a deadly score of 35.
With the exception of Thailand and Iran (32.1) all the countries with score of 30, or higher, were in the African continent.
To put Thailand’s deadly performance in context, neighbouring Malaysia had a count of 24 deaths per 100,000 on the WHO list of 180 nations.
Media outlets often quote WHO research crediting Thailand as the second deadliest destination for road deaths after Liberia, but that assumption was based on pre 2013 research.
WHO’s 2013, which appears to be the latest, most reliable and independent research, clearly shows Liberia moved down the list to third place and Thailand made the leap to first place.
WHO notes that “road traffic injuries claim more than 1.2 million lives annually, worldwide. The fatalities have a huge impact on health and development. They are the leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 and 29 years, and cost governments approximately 3% of GDP”.
WHO figures show clearly the danger of road travel in low to middle-income countries. They have less than half of the world’s vehicles, but contribute 90% of the total number of road traffic deaths. It blames accidents on poorly maintained road networks and a lack of resources to enforce road safety laws.
In contrast, countries with the lowest rates of road accident deaths are chiefly high-income countries that possess the resources necessary to maintain their roads at a high standard and enforce stricter road use laws, WHO explained.
World Atlas data is an identical, abbreviated version of WHO research dated 2013 that covered 180 nations.