Strict laws 'to ensure safe roads'
Stricter rules and law enforcement are among measures promised by the the government to improve road safety nationwide as it reflects on figures which show the country has the second highest road fatality record in the world.
The new rules will include a speed limit of 50 km/h in community areas and requiring a special driving licence for big bike drivers, Deputy Interior Minister Sutee Markboon told the 13th Thailand Road Safety Seminar on Wednesday.
"To promote safety among the main risk groups especially motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, all motorcycles must be equipped with an Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), to prevent locked wheels, and we must also have a minimum age and special driving licence for riders of big bikes," he said.
Law enforcement must be more effective, drunk drivers will face harsher punishment and arrest, and all suspects must take alcohol breath-tests, he said.
Other measures being looked at include integration among road safety promotion agencies, improving budgeting for road safety agencies, providing road safety education at all school levels, as well as supporting effective investigation and follow up of road accident causes and preventive measures, he said.
"We need technologies and innovative ideas to lower road accidents, and I must emphasise our academics and researchers who make the greatest contribution to this initiative," he added.
Thailand has 23,000 fatalities per year as a result of many factors including reckless driving and poor road infrastructure.
Thanapong Jinvong, programme manager at Road Safety Group Thailand, said Thailand faces a loss of 500 billion baht each year from road accidents.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said the state's investment in transportation infrastructure will be huge in the next 8-10 years.
"Our expenditure on better traffic lights and improving road quality is only one aspect of our planned investments. Education is the missing key because we must create a culture of safety and awareness among youth, which is largely missing," he added.
Executive chairman of the Safer Roads Foundation Michael Woodford, who earned the Prime Minister Road Safety Award this year, said implementing the law should be paramount.
"Only 4% of people pay for traffic tickets in Thailand. If 50,000 people are given a 500 baht fine per day, that's 25 million baht that could be re-invested in road safety," Mr Woodford said.
"There are 25,000 road traffic deaths per year in Europe and the EU population is 600 million. That makes Thailand dangerous when you look at the numbers, so please enforce your traffic laws," he added.