Road safety activists dished out free helmets for children Tuesday following social media debate over whether a police officer was right to charge a father whose three-year-old daughter failed to wear a helmet while on his motorcycle.
Tairjing Siripanich, secretary-general of the Don't Drive Drunk Foundation, led a group of road accident victims to Bang Khun Non police to give moral support to officers who have faced criticism for insisting small children must wear helmets. They also donated some helmets for the officers to give away to children in the area.
Dr Tairjing said people falsely believe that small children do not have to wear helmets, but children die every day in motorcycle accidents while not wearing helmets.
Superintendent Samrerng Amphanthong said the police were just doing their job. According to the law, only monks and priests are exempt from wearing helmets.
Last week, Thais engaged in fierce debate online after seeing a video clip posted by Pornpipat Jaisai of his argument with a police officer.
He later apologised and said he never knew children must wear helmets and thought the officers were persecuting him.
Wittaya Chadbanchachai, director of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre and Khon Kaen Hospital Trauma and Critical Care Centre, said 2,500 Thais aged under 15 die every year from motorcycle accidents.
Meanwhile, Programme Director of Bloomberg Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) Kelly Larson said last week she had seen progress in efforts to reduce deaths and injuries from road accidents, largely due to more people wearing helmets.
"We follow these campaigns with the help of Royal Thai Police in toughening enforcement on traffic law, and we really do see results," she said, referring to figures from Johns Hopkins International Injury Research Unit, which shows the percentage of motorcyclists wearing helmets in Bangkok has increased from 56% in July 2015 to 65% in June 2018.