BANGKOK – Thailand’s Child Safety Promotion and Injury Prevention Research Centre has launched an anti-motorcycling campaign aimed at children under 15 years old to help reduce road accident death rates.
Adisak Plitapolkarnpim, director of the centre, said Tuesday children under 15 are banned from riding motorcycles under the Land Traffic Act 1979 but their parents and teachers fail to prevent them from doing so.
He was speaking as the centre officially launched its “Don’t Ride if you are under 15” program at the Thai Health Promotion Foundation Office on Sathon Road.
The centre and foundation have worked together on the campaign.
Mr Adisak said a survey found 58% of students aged 12 are able to ride a motorcycle, with young male riders outnumbering females.
Students learn to ride a motorbike mostly from their parents and relatives when they are around 10-11 years while many start doing it as early as seven, the study found.
The survey was conducted by the centre among 2,822 Prathom 6 (Grade 6) students in nine provinces.
Road accidents are the most common cause of death among children aged 10-14, Mr Adisak said, adding teenagers should not be allowed to ride a motorcycle as they lack road safety knowledge.
At that age, children are prone to risks, including drinking and driving. They also fail to wear helmets, he said.
Children are not mature enough, Mr Adisak said, adding they fail to act decisively when they are at risk of accidents.
Mr Adisak said if parents, teachers and police officers urge children under 15 to refrain from riding motorcycles, it would help cut road accident deaths among children aged 11-14 by 40%.
According to the president of the Accident Prevention Network, Phommin Kanthiya, around 2,000 Thai children are killed in road accidents every year. Some 20,000 are seriously injured and 9,000 become disabled following road accidents each year.
He said 80 schools from 25 provinces are expected to take part in the program and, if the campaign is successful, it will be extended to other schools.
At schools, teachers will work with groups of about five students to teach them the importance of road safety.
Road safety awareness can start at school, Mr Adisak said.
Thipa Bhawangkanantha, head of the Office of the Basic Education Commission’s Child Protection Centre, said his department supports the program as the number of children killed in road accidents has increased.
Obec will order schools under its administration to join the project, he added.
Mr Phommin urged the government to adopt measures to prevent children from accessing motorcycles. He also called on the government to improve pavements to allow children to walk to school and upgrade the school bus system.
By Apichit Jinakul