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Thailand's roads second-deadliest in world, UN agency finds

Five people were hurt when this truck smashed into cars at a red light in May. Thailand this year posted the second-highest road-fatality rate in the world, the World Health Organization said. (Bangkok Post file photo)

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14,059 reported road-deaths per year, 24,237 actual deaths says WHO, 70% on motorbikes, lack of traffic law enforcement. Catalog of road safety articles at Bangkok Post learning.


Thailand's roads second-deadliest in world, UN agency finds

Bob James and AFP

A lack of key safety standards and poor enforcement of laws already on the books have combined to give Thailand the second-highest road fatality rate in the world, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) survey.

According to official statistics, 14,059 people were killed on Thai roads and highways in 2012, translating to a road-death rate of 36.2 people per 100,000, a rate only surpassed by war-torn Libya, where 73.4 people per 100,000 died that same year, according to the WHO's 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety (download for free here).

The only countries near Thailand's huge traffic-death rate were Iran (32.1 per 100,000), Togo (31.1) and nine African countries that posted rates between 30 and 35.

However, road fatalities in Thailand were far higher than officially reported, the WHO concluded. 

The WHO estimates 24,237 were actually killed in 2012 based on its models, 42% more than stated by Thailand's Public Health Ministry.


The lack of standards is particularly noticeable in Thailand:

1. There is no child restraint law (e.g. safety seat or seat belt for children).

2. There are no safety audits for new road construction projects

3. There are no regular inspections of road infrastructure

4. Thailand has no policies to separate motorists from pedestrians and cyclists (e.g. to keep motorcycles off sidewalks used by pedestrians).

5. Thailand's national seat-belt law does not apply to all passengers in a car.


Traffic law enforcement in Thailand also got poor marks.

Traffic police were rated three on a scale of 10 for their enforcement of speed limits.

Police earned sixes for enforcement of drink-driving and motorcycle-helmet laws.

Yet the status report said only 52% of motorbike drivers -- who accounted for 70% of all road and highway fatalities  - actually wear a helmet.

Only 20% of the people riding on the back of motorcycles (pillion passengers) wore helmets.

That mark, however, was a significant increase from the 3% wearing helmets recorded in 2007.

As for drink-driving, 26% of all road deaths can be attributed to alcohol, the WHO said.


Worldwide, nearly half of all those killed in traffic accidents are either walking or on two wheels, the new report showed, with pedestrians accounting for 22% of all deaths, motorcyclists making up 23%, and cyclists 4%.

The WHO report found that road safety had improved significantly in countries with laws regulating five risk factors: speed, drunk driving, and the use of helmets, seatbelts and child seats.

The WHO recommends that the maximum speed in urban areas should be set no higher than 50 kilometres per hour. Thailand's maximum urban speed limit, by comparison, is 80km/h. Its rural and highway limits are even higher at 90km/h and 120km/h, respectively, although local authorities can set lower limits.


Here are some road safety articles over the last year:

1. "22-wheel truck downs 47 power poles, 18-wheeler drags 12-year old to death" shows how child was pulled off motorcycle and dragged to death (see here).

2. "Motorcycle ban for young children sparks debate" talks about the common practice of children riding on the backs of motorcycles without helmets (see here).

3. "Thailand to get longest bicycle lane in Asia by 2017 (with photos)" shows how bike lanes are blocked by motorcycles and cars (see here).

4. "Taxi hits bicycle: What happens next?" shows how neither police nor insurance companies are likely to help cyclists hit by cars (see here).

5. "British man falls down open sewer manhole in Pathum Thani" shows negligence in road repair, how an government repair crew neither marked an open hole or put a cover back on it when finished (see here)

6. "Actress driver of Mercedes that killed policeman" details how a motorcycle cut in front of an actress's Mercedes while travelling at 100 kph, causing her to lose control of the vehicle, which she then ran into a parked police car on the side of the road, killing the police officer sleeping inside (see here).

7. "Driving behaviour: Move over. This is my road!" shows how aggressive driving can cause accidents (see here).

8. "Car rams motorbike in Pattaya (video)" shows a car actually aiming at and hitting a motorcyclist and his girlfriend on purpose (see here).

9. "Orachorn loses appeal in expressway crash that killed 9" shows how an underage driver from a rich family receives hardly any punishment at all for an accident that kills nine people (see here)

10. "Staying alive on Bangkok's roads" details the difficulties of remaining alive while bicycling on Bangkok streets (see here).

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according to (prep): as stated or reported by somebody/something - ตามคำบอกเล่า, ตามรายงาน

accounted for : all the things or people who should be there are now there -

alcohol : drinks such as whiskey, beer, wine, etc that make people feel good and become drunk - เหล้า, สุรา

apply to (verb): to use something or make something work in a particular situation - ทำให้เกี่ยวข้องกับ, ทำให้มีผลต่อ, นำไปใช้กับ

attribute to : to believe that something is the result of a particular situation, event, or person’s actions - ถือว่าเป็นของ

audit : to inspect something to see if it is done correctly -

authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ

combined : to mix or put together - รวมกัน

comparison : the process of comparing two or more people or things - การเปรียบเทียบ

conclude : to decide that something is true after looking at all the evidence you have - สรุป

construction : the work of building or making something, especially buildings, bridges, etc. - การก่อสร้าง

cyclist : a person who rides a bicycle - นักขี่จักรยาน

drink-driving (noun): driving a vehicle after drinking too much alcohol (American: drunk-driving) - ขับรถในขณะเมาเหล้า

enforcement : the process of making sure that something happens, especially that people obey a law or rule - การบังคับใช้กฎหมาย

estimate : an amount that you guess or calculate using the information available - ประมาณการ

factor : a fact or situation which influences the result of something - ปัจจัย

fatality : a death caused by an illness, accident, crime or war - การเสียชีวิต

helmet : a strong hard hat that covers and protects the head - หมวกกันน็อก

huge : very large - ใหญ่โต

infrastructure : a set of systems within a place or organisation that affect how well it operates, e.g., the telephone and transport systems in a country or the system of train tracks that a railway uses - สาธารณูปโภค

inspection : an official process of checking that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should - การตรวจสอบตรวจตรา

key : very important - ที่สำคัญ

lack of : when there is not enough of something - ขาด

local : in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น

marks : a grade or score that shows how well a student (or person or organization) has done in a test or the performance of some task -

maximum : the most possible - ที่สูงสุด ที่มากที่สุด

model : a simple description of a system, used for explaining how something works or calculating what might happen, etc - แบบจำลอง

national (adjective): for the whole country - แห่งชาติ, ของชาติ

note : to notice or pay careful attention to something - สังเกต

noticeable (adj): easy to see or notice; clear or definite - ซี่งเห็นได้ชัด

official : connected with the job of somebody who is in a position of authority - ที่เป็นทางการ

on the books : meaning that a law has existed or exists -

particularly : especially, or more than usual - โดยเฉพาะ

passenger : someone who travels in a motor vehicle, aircraft, train, or ship but is not the driver or one of the people who works on it - ผู้โดยสาร

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

post : to put a notice, etc. in a public place so that people can see it - ปิดประกาศ

project : a planned piece of work that is designed to find information about something, to produce something new, or to improve something - โครงการ

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

rate : to make a measurement/estimate of how good, popular, appropriate, etc. someone or something is - ประเมิน

recommend (verb): to advise someone that they should do something - แนะนำ

regular (adj): normal; following a pattern, especially with the same time and space in between each thing and the next - ปกติ, เป็นประจำ, เสมอๆ

regulate : to control an activity officially - ควบคุม

restraint (noun): something that prevents you from doing something; something that holds you and physically controls your movements - การจำกัด, การยับยั้ง, การกัก

risk : the possibility that something dangerous or unpleasant might happen - ความเสี่ยง

scale : a range of levels or numbers used for measuring something - ระบบการวัด

separate : to keep or put apart - แยก

significantly : in an important way - อย่างมีความหมาย, อย่างสำคัญ

speed limits : the highest speed a car can go without breaking the law, laws limiting speed -

standards : rules for behaving which should be obeyed - มาตรฐาน, บรรทัดฐาน, กฎเกณฑ์, กรอบ

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

status : position - สถานภาพ

surpass : to do or be better than somebody/something - เหนือกว่า, เก่งกว่า, ดีกว่า, เกินกว่า

survey : to ask a large number of people questions to find out their opinions - สำรวจ

translate : to change something, or to be changed, into a different form - เปลี่ยน, แปร

worldwide : throughout the world - ทั่วโลก


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