January 19, 2017
Source: BBC News
Thailand’s roads are currently ranked the second most lethal in the world after Libya’s by the World Health Organization.
This status is all the more extraordinary given the fact that Thailand has been peaceful and increasingly prosperous for decades, with governments that in other fields, like healthcare and infrastructure, have made impressive progress.
The challenge they face is not hard to see. Thailand’s rapid development has bequeathed it an unrivalled network of 462,133 roads in the region, nearly all paved, with plenty of multi-lane highways.
There are 37 million registered vehicles, 20 million of them motorbikes, and millions more that are unregistered.
“Thailand has beautiful roads,” explains Ratana Winther, the country chairperson for the U.S.-registered AIP Foundation. “And people tend to go very fast. So the number one killer is speed.”
“Enforcement is the key,” says Winther. “But that is not just about telling the police to enforce the law. The police should be told to prioritise traffic policing over traffic management.”
“But it is a multi-sectoral challenge. The punishment needs to be big enough for people to be afraid of it. And the safety campaigns must be continuous, not just at peak seasons. Then we need to move on to issues like improving the engineering of roads.”
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