The Thai Road International Assessment Program (ThaiRAP) has said Thailand has the highest rate of deaths due to motorcycle accidents in the world and bad roads are a major part of the problem.
ThaiRAP director Kasem Choocharukul a lecturer from the Faculty of Engineering at Chulalongkorn told an online forum Thursday said that three out of four roads with a length of more than 1,000km were deemed unsafe for motorcycle riders.
He said potholes and curved lanes designed for automobiles were the main reason behind Thailand’s high motorcycle accident numbers.
“Roads in western nations are mostly designed for trucks and automobiles because there is proportionally more of them than motorcycles on the road. However, it’s not like that here in Thailand,” he said.
Lanes for motorcycles are on the left in Thailand which is also the same for freight trucks. Because of this, it has resulted in more motorcycle accidents. Furthermore, other roadside objects such as electric poles or trees are also a major factor in fatal motorcycle accidents.
Traffic accident deaths
Roadside barriers in Thailand are designed for vehicles rather than motorcycles, unlike in other countries that have taken motorcyclists into consideration, he said.
“If the government injects only 0.1-0.2 % of GDP each year or about 15 billion baht into the road network it will save some 7,500 people from suffering a road accident each year,” he said.
A Global Road Safety Report in 2018 from the World Health Organization said more than 22,000 Thai people died in road traffic accidents in 2016.
The majority of these traffic accident deaths were among those aged between 15 and 29 years old, the report said. The report also showed that 74% of the road traffic deaths in Thailand were mainly motorcycles.
Dr. Chamaiphan Santikan, a former World Health Organization adviser, said the number of motorcyclists in Thailand increases by approximately a million each year. He said that 21 million motorcycles have been registered but some 11 million motorcycle riders were found without a licence which also raises the risk of danger on roads in Thailand.
Dr. Chamaiphan said the most popular types of motorcycles with Thailand’s teens had bigger rims and narrow tires, which also added to the highest rate of accidents.
He said over the past 18 years, the yearly number of motorcycle accident deaths has been more than the number of deaths we have seen from Covid-19 in the past 2 years. Despite the number of deaths, the government hasn’t done anything to deal with this issue.
A proposal was also submitted to the prime minister but it has yet to see progress, Dr. Chamaiphan said.
The International Road Assessment Program (ThaiRAP ) proposed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha a series of measures addressing motorcycle safety in Thailand. Motorcycle safety issues included performance standards, revising vehicle categories and improving the licence system.
During their speeches, neither director Kasem Choocharukul or Dr. Chamaiphan Santikan addressed the issues of excessive speed or drunk driving. Most Thais caught violating Thailand’s drunk driving laws rarely face stiff penalties. Most get off with a fine and a suspended sentence.
An experienced NY motorcycle accident attorney shares his opinion on this: “In Thailand, factors such as the convergence of lanes for motorcycles and freight trucks, and the presence of roadside objects contribute significantly to the mishaps.
In contrast, New York has its challenges, such as busy streets, distracted drivers, and varying weather conditions, but road designs tend to prioritize all vehicles, including motorcycles. The alarming statistics from Thailand are a reminder for cities like New York to constantly review and adapt their infrastructure, ensuring the safety of all road users.
Source: Bangkok Post