The best New Year’s gift for Thai people

Published ธันวาคม 30, 2015 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/The-best-New-Years-gift-for-Thai-people-30275392.html

BURNING ISSUE

PRETTY SOON, Thailand will enter a new period of “Seven Dangerous Days” with all the usual huge publicity to remind motorists they should help to promote road safety.

Authorities are always eager to highlight such campaigns ahead of festive seasons such as the New Year holidays, during which large numbers of people will hit the roads. But have these concerned authorities done their job fully in preventing road accidents?

As I was driving along the Bang Na – Bang Pa-in Motorway yesterday, I noticed that signs reading “construction ahead” were installed again at a spot just a few hundred metres away from an actual construction site. Vehicles on that motorway move at the speed of no less than 100 kilometres an hour. So when the signs are only visible so close to the site, there is a real risk of accidents.

According to the Highways Department, such signs should be installed at least one kilometre ahead of the actual construction areas on the motorway, and there must be several signs to alert motorists, installed 300 metres apart.

As a frequent user of this motorway, I have seen several accidents take place there.

When I turned into the Bang Na – Trat Road yesterday, I also noticed that some repair work was underway on inbound lanes in front of Rajavinit Road – without any signs to remind motorists.

Such flaws in the road-warning system reminded me of how many times I have felt scared when driving along the Bang Na – Bang Pa-in Motorway at night and seen lighting that signalled construction work ahead at very short notice. What would have happened to me if I could not have switched to another lane in time?

So very often, road accidents happen because authorities concerned provide less than perfect driving lanes.

Inappropriately-placed barriers, poorly signalled road repairs and insufficient lighting are quite common on our roads. Most motorists must have noticed such things before. The fortunate ones are still alive, but not all are lucky at all times.

In addition to human error, vehicles, road conditions and circumstances – all are factors that can cause accidents.

So while soft measures like campaigns may help curb road accidents, authorities concerned must be acutely aware that hard measures are equally needed. Please provide proper infrastructure so that we all can use the roads safely.

At present, many traffic areas in Thailand are known as “dangerous bends or curves” where many road accidents happen. In particular, people have heard about “Kong roi sop” (A curve that has claimed hundreds of lives). When agencies hear about this, they should visit the spot and examine how they can reduce accident risks. Increase lighting and install signs, if necessary. All such hard measures can help.

Don’t ignore the need to introduce hard measures. When a tour bus skidded off a mountain in Nan province last year, authorities discussed a plan to ban double-decker coaches on mountainous roads because statistics showed the vehicles were not suitable for such travel. But no ban has actually materialised since.

And just on Sunday, a double-decker tour bus crashed in a mountainous area in Chiang Mai, killing at least 14 including 13 Malaysian tourists.

According to the Global Status Report on Road Safety, Thailand ranks third worst in terms of dangerous roads. Road accidents kill 38 people per 100,000 population each year. With such notoriety, Thailand trailed behind just Eritrea (48 deaths per 100,000 population) and Libya (41 deaths per 100,000 population).

The Thai government has vowed to reduce the number of annual road deaths to no more than 10 per 100,000 by 2020.

To achieve that goal, all agencies involved as well as people in Thailand must be aware of their duty and take both soft and hard measures in the prevention of road accidents.

For motorists, respect traffic laws and ensure vehicles are in good condition. No speeding, no drink driving, and no riding without wearing safety belts or safety helmets.

For authorities, make sure road conditions are safe for all. It will very likely be one of the best New Year gifts of all for Thais.

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