We all know that wearing a motorcycle helmet is a fundamental motorbike safety requirement. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a good quality motorcycle helmet can reduce the risk of death by around 40% and the risk of severe head injury by around 70%. Thai law is very clear on the obligation of riders and passengers to wear crash helmets. The Land and Traffic Act B.E. 2522 (1979), Section 122 stipulates: “The rider and the passenger of a motorcycle shall wear a motorcycle helmet. The penalty is a fine not exceeding 500 baht for both riders and passengers, with the rider responsible.” To check out the local scene; Hua Hin Today conducted a small survey of motorbikes commuting on a busy local road on a recent January Saturday afternoon.
The results were frightening! We just checked the first 200 motorbikes passing our position over a period of about 20 minutes. All the motorbikes were either approaching or returning from an intersection where a permanent Police Box is positioned. We were only looking at helmet use rather than licensing requirements, that’s another question! Of course we are not suggesting this is a verifiable statistical sample, just a taste of how the ‘100% Helmet Use’ policy is respected. Our sample: 200 motor bikes, with 380 on board. However the figures are accurate and this is what we found.
– 59% (118 of the 200 motorbikes) were without any helmets being worn.
– 64% of the motorbikes did not have all travellers wearing a helmet.
– 28.4% of the 380 travellers were wearing helmets.
One motorcycle without any helmets carried 4 travellers (probably all underage)
– One person with no helmet (in the carrier) was on the phone and that’s where she is looking.
– One motorbike with 2 travellers, had no helmets with the driver busy playing with his passenger’s knee; that’s where he was looking. She was too busy on the phone to notice.
Foreigners? We didn’t count them separately, but our estimate is that statistically they were just as culpable! The subject of Thailand road safety issues; motorbikes, drunk driving, seatbelt use, road conditions and driving standards, is a constant source of blog sarcasm and bar room discussion (just before they drive home) by foreign visitors and residents. The expression; ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ applies to many foreigners who leave behind their legal and safe driving habits in their home countries and become no different than the rest of the ‘road terrorists’. Perhaps the only way to make a difference is to set the standard and drive with courtesy, patience, defensively AND safety. More role models are urgently needed!