Thailand's deadly roads stem from law enforcement failure

Thailand's deadly roads stem from law enforcement failure

Three people died in this accident in Pathum Thani during the last Songkran road slaughter. Experts say the extremely high death toll in Thailand is actually under-reported. (Post Today file photo)
Three people died in this accident in Pathum Thani during the last Songkran road slaughter. Experts say the extremely high death toll in Thailand is actually under-reported. (Post Today file photo)

Attempts to suspend licenses of bad drivers & to get people to pay traffic tickets have all failed, but enforcing traffic laws is key to safer roads, experts say.


Thailand's deadly roads stem from law enforcement failure

Adapted from article by Paritta Wangkiat, Wassayos Ngamkham & Amornrat Mhitthirook

Thailand actually may have the highest road fatality rates and have the deadliest roads in the world,  according to Prommin Kantiya, director of the Accident Prevention Network (APN) (see website here & Facebook here).

Road accident statistics are inaccurate and accidents under-reported, he says.

Government agencies record accidents in different ways, with police records based on legal charges, and those from the Public Health Ministry based on hospital admissions.

According to the recent World Health Organisation (WHO) 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety, the number of people reported killed on Thai roads and highways in 2012 was 14,059 (download report for free here).

The Public Health Ministry says that is equivalent to a road-death rate of 36.2 people per 100,000. This rate was only surpassed by war-torn Libya, where 73.4 people per 100,000 died that same year.

However, the WHO concluded that road fatalities in Thailand were far higher than reported. It estimated road traffic fatalities that year were actually as high as 24,237, or 42% more than stated.


While the public health ministry is planning road safety campaigns throughout the year to educate people, better law enforcement is the only solution to reducing the death rate, says Mr. Prommin.

Videos, however, can raise awareness of the problems. A recent video by Stop for Step shows how  vulnerable people walking at zebra crossings are (pedestrians) to negligent driving and road accidents

(WARNING: the video shows graphic, horrific road accidents):


Deputy Transport Minister Ormsin Chivapruck blamed the high road accident figures in Thailand on lax law enforcement.

State agencies fail to reduce the traffic accident rate as they were too focused on other things.

Police prioritise crime, rather than traffic.

The Transport Ministry focuses on building roads and issuing driver's licences instead of driving standards and qualifications.

GPS devices on buses and taxis to monitor their driving is one idea that has been suggested.


In the past, there was a policy to suspend the driver's licences of motorists with repeated traffic violations.

The policy was short-lived, however, due to problems in coordinating with the Department of Land Transport (DLT).

A source at the Transport Ministry also blamed the failed policy on poor coordination between the two government agencies.


Bad motorists are supposedly to blame for most accidents, a study shows that about 73% of road accidents result from driver misconduct, not weather or road conditions.

To combat bad driving, the Highway Police has installed traffic cameras to capture violations and also to avoid having to deal with motorists, breaking traffic regulations, face-to-face. The idea is to curb confrontations and bribery.

However, it was revealed this week that in Phuket, 70% of motorists caught on  traffic cameras fail to pay the fine and none of them had their driver's licenses revoked.

Four traffic cameras are catching about 10 drivers a day but only 30 per cent of the drivers actually come and pay the fine, which is never more than 1,000 baht.

Initially, there was cooperation with police to prevent any changes in registration, ownership, taxes or insurance to cars with outstanding tickets.

But the government agency in charge was later told they could not work with the police in this way and the only option was for the police to initiate criminal cases in court, even though trafffic ticket fines are small and trials in court long (see here). 

Earlier this year, it was reported that only 40% of people who get traffic tickets in Bangkok paid their fines because they are too busy, so a new system that makes payment very easy was created making it as easy as paying a bill at 7-11 (see article here).


Senior police officers call for a long-term approach to dealing with confrontations with motorists when police strictly enforce traffic regulations, suggesting related laws could be amended.

The vast majority of road accidents occur on local roads within small communities, not on big highways.

Many people there tend to use motorcycles for travel and usually fail to wear safety helmets.


Prior to 2015, breathalyser tests for drunk drivers were effectively optional.

Police were not expected to force drivers to take a breathalyser test if they refused (see here).


A new system for issuing traffic tickets that avoids police confrontations with motorists will be unveiled at the start of the New Year festival.

At least ten police patrol cars patrolling Bangkok streets during New Years will be equipped with a video camera, which can shoot 30 frames in one second, and an online system linking the cars to police stations nearby.

Photos of traffic violations, including illegally parked cars and vehicles with false licence plates, will be sent online to police stations which will immediately issue tickets.

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  • accident (noun): an unpleasant event that happens unexpectedly and causes injury or damage - อุปัทวเหตุ, เหตุบังเอิญ
  • according to (prep): as stated or reported by somebody/something - ตามคำบอกเล่า, ตามรายงาน
  • actually: used for stressing what is really true or what really happened - ตามความเป็นจริง
  • admission: the act of accepting somebody into a hospital for medical treatment - การรับผู้ป่วยไว้ในโรงพยาบาล
  • agency (noun): a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ
  • avoid: to try to prevent something from happening - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • awareness: knowing that something exists, or having knowledge or experience of a particular thing - การรับรู้, การทราบ, ความตระหนัก
  • based on (verb): information or facts used to make a story, calculation, judgement or decision - ตั้งอยู่บน,ยึดเป็นหลัก
  • blame: responsibility for doing something badly or wrongly; saying that somebody is responsible for something - การรับผิดชอบต่อสิ่งไม่ดีที่เกิดขึ้น
  • blame: to be responsible for something bad - เหตุขัดข้อง
  • blame: to say or think that someone or something did something wrong or is responsible for something bad happening - ตำหนิ
  • breathalyser (noun): a device used by the police to measure the amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath - เครื่องวัดปริมาณอัลกอฮอล์จากลมหายใจ
  • bribery: the crime of giving money or presents to someone so that they will help you by doing something dishonest or illegal - การให้สินบน
  • campaign (noun): a planned series of activities designed to persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate or political party - การรณรงค์หาเสียง
  • capture: to film/record/paint, etc. somebody/something - เก็บภาพ, จับภาพ
  • charge : an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime - ข้อกล่าวหา
  • cite: to mention something as an example - กล่าวถึง
  • conclude: to decide that something is true after looking at all the evidence you have - สรุป
  • condition: the physical state of a person, animal, thing or place - สภาพ
  • confrontation: a situation in which people or groups are arguing angrily or are fighting - การเผชิญหน้า
  • cooperation: working together to achieve a result that will benefit all sides - ความร่วมมือ, การทำงานร่วมกัน
  • coordinate: to organise the different parts of a job or plan so that the people involved work together effectively - ประสานงานกัน
  • coordination: the act of making all the people involved in a plan or activity work together in an organised way - การประสานกัน
  • court: the place where legal trials take place and where crimes, etc. are judged - ศาล
  • criminal: relating to illegal acts - เกี่ยวกับอาชญากรรม
  • curb: to control or limit something - จำกัดขอบเขต, ควบคุม
  • device (noun): a machine or piece of equipment that does a particular job - อุปกรณ์ เครื่องมือ เครื่องจักร
  • director: one of a group of senior managers who run a company - กรรมการบริษัท
  • driver’s licence: a document or card that indicates a person is legally able to drive a car - ใบขับขี่
  • due to: because of - เนื่องจาก
  • equipped: having the necessary supplies, equipment, training, etc. - ครบครัน, ซึ่งมีเครื่องประกอบพร้อม
  • equivalent: the same as; equal to - เท่าเทียมกันกับ
  • estimated: thought to be a particular amount, size, etc. based on a guess or the best information available - ประมาณการ
  • face-to-face (adj): involving people who are close together and looking at each other - เผชิญหน้ากัน, ต่อหน้า
  • false: not true -
  • fatality: a death caused by an illness, accident, crime or war - การเสียชีวิต
  • festival (noun): an event that is held to celebrate a particular thing or activity - เทศกาล
  • figure: a number representing a particular amount, especially one given in official information - ตัวเลข, จำนวนเลข
  • fine: an amount of money that you have to pay because you have broken the law - ค่าปรับ
  • focus: to give attention, effort, etc. to one particular subject, situation or person rather than another - เพ่งความสนใจ
  • GPS: global positioning system (a system by which signals are sent from satellites to a special device, used to show the position of a person or thing on the surface of the earth very accurately) - จีพีเอส (ระบบกำหนดตำแหน่งบนโลก)
  • horrific: so shocking that it upsets you - น่าขนลุก
  • illegally: in a way that is against the law - อย่างผิดกฎหมาย
  • immediately (adv): happening right after something else with no delay; right away - ทันที
  • in charge of: to be in control of an activity and to check that everything is being done correctly - ดูแล ควบคุม
  • initiate: to make something start - ริเริ่ม
  • install: to put a piece of equipment somewhere and make it ready for use - ติดตั้ง
  • insurance: an arrangement in which you regularly pay an insurance company an amount of money so that they will give you money if something you own is damaged, lost, or stolen, or if you die or are ill or injured - การประกัน
  • law enforcement: the process of making sure that people obey the law - การบังคับใช้กฎหมาย
  • lax: not paying enough attention to rules, or not caring enough about quality or safety - ละเลย
  • licence plate: a flat piece of metal or plastic on the front and back of a vehicle that shows its license number - แผ่นป้ายทะเบียนรถยนต์
  • link: to connect - เชื่อม
  • ministry: a government department that has a particular area of responsibility - กระทรวง
  • misconduct: unacceptable or bad behaviour by someone in a position of authority or responsibility - การประพฤติผิด
  • monitor: keep track of - ตรวจ, ติดตาม, เฝ้าสังเกต
  • motorist (noun): a person driving a car or other motor vehicle - คนขับรถยนต์, ผู้ขับรถ
  • negligent: not being careful or giving enough attention to people or things that are your responsibility - ละเลย,ไม่สนใจ
  • network: a large system of connected parts, organisations, people, etc. - เครือข่าย
  • online: controlled by or connected to a computer or to the Internet - ออนไลน์, การเชื่อมต่อผ่านระบบเครือข่ายทางคอมพิวเตอร์
  • option: choice - ตัวเลือก
  • outstanding: not yet paid, done, solved, etc - ค้างชำระ
  • ownership (noun): the condition or state of owning things, having things that you "own", that belong to you, that you are the "owner" of - สิทธิการครอบครอง, ความเป็นเจ้าของ
  • patrol: to move regularly around a place in order to prevent trouble or crime or to watch for an enemy - ลาดตระเวน
  • pedestrians: people who are walking, especially in an area where vehicles go - คนเดินถนน, คนเดินเท้า
  • policy (noun): a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group - นโยบาย
  • prevent (verb): to stop somebody from doing something; to stop something from happening - ขัดขวาง, ป้องกัน, กัน, กีดขวาง
  • prevention: preventing something bad from happening - การป้องกันภ้ย
  • prioritise: to put tasks, problems, etc. in order of importance, so that you can deal with the most important first - จัดลำดับก่อน
  • public health (noun): the health of all the people in a country, city or community and their health issues; also the name of a government department - การสาธารณสุข
  • qualifications: the abilities, qualities, degrees, etc. that you need for a particular job or activity - คุณสมบัติ, คุณวุฒิ
  • rate: the level or speed at which something happens or changes, or the amount or number of times it happens or changes in a particular period - อัตรา
  • recent: happening or starting a short time ago - เร็วๆ นี้
  • record: a written account of something that is kept so that it can be looked at and used in the future - การบันทึก, รายงาน
  • record: a written account of something that is kept so that it can be looked at and used in the future - บันทึก, รายงาน
  • registration: the process of recording names or information on an official list - การขึ้นทะเบียน, การลงทะเบียน
  • repeat: something that happens again, i.e., which is very similar to a previous happening - การกระทำซ้ำ
  • repeatedly: happening, said or done many times - อย่างซ้ำๆ
  • result from (verb): caused by -
  • reveal: to show or let something become known - เปิดเผย
  • revoke: to officially say that something is no longer legal - เพิกถอน
  • solution: a way of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation - วิธีแก้ปัญหา
  • source: someone who gives information - แหล่งข่าว
  • standard: a (high) level of quality - มาตรฐาน
  • standards: a level of quality that is normal or acceptable for a particular person or in a particular situation - มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน
  • state: to formally write or say something, especially in a careful and clear way - บอกกล่าว, แถลง, กล่าว
  • statistics: a collection of information shown in numbers - วิชาสถิติ
  • suggest: to mention an idea or a plan for somebody else to think about - เสนอ, เสนอแนะ
  • surpass: to do or be better than somebody/something - เหนือกว่า, เก่งกว่า, ดีกว่า, เกินกว่า
  • suspend: to stop something for a short time - หยุดชั่วคราว
  • suspension: stopping for a period of time - การยกเลิกชั่วคราว, การระงับชั่วคราว
  • ticket: an official notice that orders you to pay a fine because you have done something illegal while driving or parking your car - ใบสั่ง สำหรับผู้กระทำผิดกฎจราจร
  • traffic violation (noun): when someone breaks the law while driving a car or truck, such as speeding, not stopping at a red light or at a stopsign or driving dangerously...etc - การฝ่าฝืนกฎจราจร
  • unveil: to show or introduce a new plan, product, etc. to the public for the first time - เปิดเผย, ประกาศให้รู้ทั่วไป
  • vehicle: a machine that you travel in or on, especially one with an engine that travels on roads, e.g., a car, bus, van, truck, etc. - ยานพาหนะ
  • violation: the breaking of a rule or a law - การฝ่าฝืน
  • zebra crossing: zebra crossing, pedestrian crossing, crosswalk - ทางม้าลาย, ทางขีดเส้นดำสลับขาว เป็นที่ให้คนเดินข้ามถนน
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