On Thursday evening, two automobiles collided on Highway 41 in the Thung Song area of this southern province of Thailand, killing a man and his wife and badly injuring five others.
A surveillance camera showed the moment a Nissan Almera drove to the right, ran over the median strip, and crashed head-on with an incoming Toyota automobile on the opposite side of the highway, according to Pol Lt Col Komkrit Arunothai, a Thung Song police investigator.
The collision seriously damaged both automobiles.
The crash killed the driver of the Nissan, Anan Srimuangmaen, 54, and his wife, Piyaporn Sae Lao, 38.
Somnuek Sawaengchok, 46, the driver of the Toyota, and four young women – Nanthaporn Kongklaew, 18, Thonthida Sawaenglok, 18, Nitcha Thongchinda, 18, and Charuwan Aksornwong, 17 – were hurt. They were all from the Thung Song district of Nakhon Si Thammarat. They were immediately sent to Thung Song Hospital for treatment.
Anan and Piyaporn were on their way back to Chanthaburi province after a leisure excursion to the Hat Yai area of Songkhla province, according to a police investigation.
Police were trying to determine the cause of the accident in order to pursue any required legal action.
Traffic Accidents in Thailand
Year after year, Thailand consistently ranks among the top 10 countries with the highest rate of road traffic accidents and resulting fatalities. Every day tens of people lose their lives on the country’s roads and thousands more are injured. Almost 75% of the victims are users of 2- or 3-wheelers, mainly motorcyclists.
A large percentage of these deaths are preventable. It is therefore essential for visitors to understand how Thai traffic works and to anticipate what could possibly go wrong in order to stay safe on the country’s busy streets.
There is no one answer as to why Thailand has such a high number of traffic accidents but a combination of factors, including culture and development, can be identified. Generally speaking, the rules of the road in Thailand are not observed in the same way as in more developed countries and many Thai drivers don’t pay sufficient attention to their surroundings or simply ignore the road signs and signals.
Another reason for the high number of accidents in Thailand is the lack of enforcement of traffic laws. This is not limited to just the police force but also other government agencies and local authorities such as the city and provincial governments. Often the police don’t even stop to check whether a driver is licensed and insured which is especially important for drivers with foreign-registered vehicles.
The same applies to local and provincial councils which often don’t properly inspect and maintain the roads or don’t enforce traffic laws. Moreover, there is a large proportion of illegal or unregistered motorbikes on the country’s streets which can be dangerous for those who are using them.
Other causes of accidents in Thailand include a lack of awareness of the dangers of driving at night, failure to wear seat belts or use child seats and reckless driving such as speeding or parking on the sidewalks. Besides, the country’s road infrastructure isn’t always in good condition with many potholed and narrow roads, not to mention overcrowded highways and urban areas.
In addition, a high-profile crash at a pedestrian crossing on the Phayathai Road in Bangkok last year and the recent death of ophthalmologist Dr Waraluck Supawatjariyakul on a zebra crossing in central Bangkok have served as a wake-up call to road safety officials that it’s time for a major overhaul of the country’s roads.
Keeping traffic deaths low will require a complete shift in driver behaviour. This can only be achieved by making the entire transport system more efficient and by introducing safer vehicles and better road layouts. Sadly, this will take years to achieve but it is certainly needed.