Thailand now tops the rankings as the country with the highest death rate in road accidents, according to one global survey.
Despite government attempts to reduce the number of casualties, a seminar on road safety was told that Thailand now tops the road death list on the World Atlas website. “The road death rate in Thailand is a matter of extreme concern as the country now ranks first, surpassing the deadliest country in the last survey, Libya,” ThaejingSiripanit, secretary-general of the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation, told the seminar.
He was referring to rankings published in November by the website which gives appraisals on various topics, among them road safety. World Atlas, which provides online information on travel, society, economics and environment, ranked 30 countries around the world. Thailand’s estimated road traffic death rate (per 100,000) stands at 36.2 this year, followed by Malawi (35) and Liberia (33.7). African countries filled most top-10 slots.
The Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation has urged the government to enforce drink driving laws year round The World Health Organisation ranks Thailand as the second deadliest country, behind Libya from a survey of 180 countries. The World Atlas ranking matches death cases in road accidents compiled by the foundation. Last year, up to 22,000 people, or an average of 50 to 60 people a day, died in car crashes, said Dr Thaejing.
A few suggestions to boost road safety were proposed at the seminar. Among them was promoting the use of dashboard video cameras, or “dash cams” in the hope footage of bad driving posted online will deter motorists from driving illegally and unsafely. Dr Thaejing suggestedthe government make installing dash cams a priority, believing it will go well with its much-touted Thailand 4.0 policy, which promotes technological advances to improve public services. He said he once proposed the policy to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha,who expressed enthusiasm for the idea. However, since Gen Prayut instructed officials to work on a policy plan in May last year, there has been little progress, Dr Thaejing said. Dr Thaejing questioned the enforcement of laws that have been in effect for many years but which have failed to curb dangerous driving, mainly by drunk drivers. Many Thais are “well aware of the laws but simply ignore them,” he said.
The Foundation has urged the government to campaign against drink driving throughout the year, not just during festivals, he said. The week-long campaign during the New Year that allowed authorities to temporarily impound the vehicles of drunk drivers proved to be successful in terms of stimulating public awareness about alcohol and driving, Dr Taejing Siripanich said. However, road accidents did not happen only during festive seasons like the New Year and Songkran. They could occur at any time throughout the year, and do. Therefore the road safety campaign should be continued throughout the year, if it was to effectively bring down the number of road fatalities, he said.