54 Covid-19 deaths compared to 26,000 road deaths

OPINION

by Brian Hull, long-term expat

From time-to-time The Thaiger adds some different perspectives from guest posts. Expat Brian Hull gave us permission to repost his social media rant about the road deaths in Thailand, comparing them with the death toll from the Covid-19 outbreak.

Thailand, with a population of 67 million, has done a good job to date in keeping Covid-19 deaths to just 54. This begs the question of why nothing serious is ever done to tackle the annual road carnage of 26,000 deaths, which gives Thailand the distinction of being in the top six of the worst countries in the world.

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Every accident is a tragedy but the biggest tragedy of all is that most of these could be prevented with proper police control.

I don’t know where the buck stops in the Thai bureaucratic blame game but it should be obvious to even a blind man where it starts – with the traffic police who are noted by their absence from the roads.

During six years of living in Thailand, not once have I seen a motor bike cop or police car stop anybody for anything. Their activities are confined to roadside checks for motorbike helmets and drivers’ licenses. While it is laudable, it does not require trained policemen to perform this function, it could be done by retired school teachers or librarians, and does nothing whatsoever to reduce road accidents.

For years, I have expressed my frustration, and fumed about Thailand not having proper road rules but to my surprise, when I did a test for a Thai Driver’s License, I discovered that sensible traffic regulations, similar to those in the West, are in place. The problem is that they are not enforced.

I think a basic road rule that applies in nearly all developed countries, including Thailand, is that a vehicle (whether car or motorbike) cannot pass another vehicle that is travelling in the same lane. So, all those motorbikes and scooters that are passing cars on either side of them, and snaking in and out of traffic, are breaking the law and creating mayhem.

This, and drink driving or speeding, are the major causes of accidents. If the police were to crack down on just this one rule there is no doubt in my mind that traffic accidents would be reduced by well over 50%.

At 10pm one night last year, with nothing better to do, I counted 250 traffic transgressions in the space of 15 minutes that were worthy of a fine. Any country in the world would have a traffic accident rate as dismal as Thailand’s if they did not have active police control, from the top down.

If senior Government officials are not capable of effectively managing their police force, or are just too lethargic and unmotivated, then they should be replaced, and if appropriate, face charges of Criminal Negligence.

What do you think of Brian’s thoughts? Comment on our Facebook page.

54 Covid-19 deaths compared to 26,000 road deaths

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