Most people still don't wear crash helmets

Only 43% of Thais bother to wear a crash helmet when riding on a motorcycle, despite the government's campaign for 100% helmet compliance since 2011, according to an extensive nationwide survey by two road safety groups.

Danai Ruangsorn, chairman of the Thai Roads Foundation, said the study, conducted in partnership with the Road Safety Watch group, observed motorcycle users at 3,200 locations in 77 provinces. Besides observational data,  they also conducted interviews and took photographs and videos which were used in analysing the data.

The survey of helmet wearing in 2012 concluded that overall only 43% of people on motorbikes in Thailand wear crash helmets - 52% of drivers and 20% of passengers.

Based on age groups, 49% of adults wear a helmet, and only 28% of teenagers. Only 7% of children wear helmets when travelling on a motorcycle.

Motorcycle users in the central region are the most safety conscious, with 54% donning a helmet, but only 37% in the North and 39% in the South wear a helmet.

Provinces with the highest percentage of helmet wearers are Bangkok, at over 80%, followed by Phuket, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan and Pathum Thani. Provinces with less than 20% of helmet protection are Bung Kan, Lamphun, Chaiyaphum, Narathiwat and Nakhon Phanom.

The study also found a big gap between motorcycle users in major commercial centres of the central provinces, where 74% wear a helmet, and in rural areas, where only 28% abide by the law.

There were around 1.5 million motorcycle users in Thailand in 2012.

Accident statistics show over 100,000 people died on the from road accidents over the past 10 years, or  around 30 a day on average. He said 70 to 80% of fatal accidents involved motorcycle users and the main cause of death was head injury due to not wearing a helmet.

The helmet requirement under the Land Traffic Act has been effective since 1996.

Witthaya Chartbanchachai, head of an accident-prevention centre working in co-operation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), said the situation in Thailand is considered to be at the severe level.

The WHO was concerned that 23% of road accidents were caused by motorcycles and the age of the victims was around 15 to 44 years.

He said Thailand earned only six out of 10 in the scoring on enforcement of the helmet law, which was lower than other Asean countries. Singapore and Vietnam, for example, scored nine, and Indonesia and Laos an eight.

The WHO reported that road accidents killed 1.24 million people globally in 2010 and injured as many as 50 million people. Road accidents were the eighth biggest cause of death in the world, and it could rise to fifth if there is no improvement on enforcement of the law to protect road users by 2030, the report said.

A family of four riding a motorcycle and only the parents are wearing helmets. A study found only 7% of children wear helmets when they ride on a motorcycle. Photo by Panumas Sanguanwong

Related search: motorcycle, helmet, Thai Roads Foundation, Road Safety Watch

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