A Romsai rescue worker inspects a car crash on the side of a highway on the fifth night of Songkran 2015. The drunk driver was speeding and crashed his car head on into a light pole. Photo: Alexander Hotz
Thailand has earned the dubious distinction as the country with the second most dangerous roads in the world.
According to the 2015 Global Status Report of Road Safety by the World Health Organization (WHO), 14,059 people were killed in Thailand by road accidents in 2012 which is about 36.2 people per per 100,000 — the second highest rate in the world.
To put that in perspective, that’s about 39 people per day who die on our country’s treacherous roads.
Watch the Coconuts TV documentary on Thailand’s annual Songkran road death crisis
With 32,476,977 vehicles registered in Thailand, riders of motorcycles and three-wheelers are by far the largest group to be killed in road accidents (73%) followed by passengers of 4-wheeled cars (7%) and drivers of 4-wheeled cars (6%).
This might result from the lack of safety precautions. WHO noted that Thailand’s national seat-belt law only applies to the driver and passenger in the front seats. The study finds that only 58% of drivers and 54% of front seat occupants use a seatbelt.
As many residents rely on motorcycle-taxis, which usually don’t provide a helmet for their passengers, the helmet-wearing rate shockingly falls to only 20% for passengers and 52% for the drivers.
As for drink-driving, 26% of all road deaths can be attributed to alcohol.
READ: The 7 Dangerous Days
Meanwhile, Libya scored the highest percentage with 73.4 deaths per 100,000 people and the African region continued to have the highest road traffic death rates. Europe has the lowest death rate as many of its high-income countries have been found successful at achieving and sustaining reductions in death rates.
Globally, an estimate of 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Road traffic death rates in low- and middle-income countries are more than double those in the high-income countries.
“Road traffic fatalities take an unacceptable toll – particularly on poor people in poor countries,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO.
However, the number of road traffic deaths is stabilizing even though the number of motor vehicles worldwide has increased rapidly, as has the global population. In the last three years, 79 countries have seen a decrease in the absolute number of fatalities while 68 countries have seen an increase.