There is much hype about the number of fatal road casualties during Songkran and every year the authorities vow to reduce the numbers which is commendable.
However, is Songkran really so “deadly” ? It would appear not.
A former colleague from the Buriram Times has been researching the subject and the figures he has come up with are quite startling.
The average daily death toll during Songkran is around 60. For the remaining 51 weeks it is around 80. It is good that every year road accident figures are highlighted but these figures suggest that the problem is not Songkran.
When you consider the increase in traffic during Songkran then the figures make even worse reading.
What the figures tell us is that Thailand has a severe problem and targetting one week in the year is not going to solve it.
As a daily car driver I can honestly say that on every journey I make I encounter a potential accident, either personally or as an observer. The standard of driving is frankly appalling.
The policy of the police setting up road blocks and fining people for not wearing a helmet or not having a driving licence is never going to address the problem. I’m not saying these should be stopped but they need more traffic cops on the roads to pull in driving offenders.
Speed traps would be far mor effective than helmet and licence checks.
The root of the problem is ignorance. Many Thais simply do not know how to drive safely. The authorities are going to make the driving test more difficult and more worryingly, more expensive.
This will only mean more people driving without a licence. Thais in general have a problem with the “what if” concept. That is “what MIGHT happen” if I do this.
It has got to start in the schools with pupils being shown videos of accidents but more importantly of how to drive sensibly. I am not excluding the farangs from blame,speed is a problem with some of them as well.
However, the difference is they are better equipped to deal with potential serious situations when they arise. This stems from experience and from being brought up in countries where the police are an effective deterrent to bad driving.
The thing that horrifies me most here is seeing very young children driving motorbikes on main roads, or indeed anywhere. I’m told that if it was stopped, many children would not go to school.
That should not be an excuse. A child who is not strong enough to properly control a motorbike shoul NOT be driving one.
Sadly, I can’t see things changing in the near future. The authorities will be already patting themselves on the back for reducing the death toll this Songkran. So now the carnage will continue.