Road safety needs fixing

Road safety needs fixing

Dr Waraluck Supawatjariyakul, an ophthalmologist for the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, should have celebrated her 34th birthday yesterday. Instead, it turned out to be her funeral rite.

Dr Waraluck was hit by a high-powered motorcycle as she walked across a Phayathai Road pedestrian crossing on Friday afternoon.

Severely injured at the scene, she was pronounced dead shortly after being rushed by ambulance to a hospital.

The case has become a high-profile road accident that has shocked society.

A viral video clip shows the bike driver, Pol L/C Norawich Buadok, nonchalantly breaking all related traffic rules. Instead of slowing down upon reaching the zebra crossing, as required by traffic law, the young police officer only sped up. Furthermore, he rode his bike on the right-most lane, instead of the opposite as per traffic laws.

While the young policeman was found to have enough money to afford a pricey Italian bike, he'd also broken vehicle transportation laws by failing to pay a vehicle annual tax fee and did not attach a licence plate to his motorcycle.

The accident has become another humiliation for the Royal Thai Police (RTP), following others such as accusations that police helped Red Bull scion Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya remain at large and the fatal torturing of a drug suspect by "Joe Ferrari" who is superintendent of Nakhon Sawan Police Station, last year.

The RTP cannot afford to do anything less than show it can handle this latest case with the utmost transparency and without favouritism.

The loss of Dr Waraluck should also be a wake-up call for the authorities to be serious in addressing Thailand's road safety problems.

It is not a secret that Thailand has road safety issues. Last year, the World Health Organization's annual road safety assessment said Thailand had the world's second-highest rate of road deaths in the world. More than 20,000 people die each year in traffic-related accidents on Thai roads, the report stated.

The WHO report, along with local data from state agencies, noted that 70-85% of the fatalities involved a motorcycle. The majority of victims and culprits of motorcycle-related accidents are those aged between 15-29 years. In one reported case, from a few years ago, a victim of an accident was a seven-year-old boy not wearing a helmet while riding his parent's motorcycle.

It stands to reason that the RTP needs to increase penalties and enforce traffic laws to deter people from breaking traffic laws. But relying on law enforcement is far from enough to make streets safe.

While the Thai government has done a lot in promoting vehicle manufacturers and building roads, it has done little on teaching people to behave properly and kindly when they share public road spaces.

Given the scope of the problem, both the authorities and schools need to campaign more on road safety and consider providing safety resources such as helmets that are affordable or even free.

Not until society can make drivers traffic-safety literate and compassionate when driving, senseless deaths, like that of Dr Waraluck, will only continue.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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