Sunday 17 November 2013 marks the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims where all those killed or injured in road traffic accidents are remembered, together with their families, the emergency services and all others affected or involved.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013, indicated that road traffic deaths in Thailand have grown to become the third highest (of 182 countries) in the world, estimated at 38.1 deaths per 100,000 of the Thai population. The WHO estimated road traffic deaths in Thailand in 2010 to be 26,312. A key factor is the very high number of motorcycles in Thailand.
According to the Thai Ministry of Public Health there were 13,766 deaths as a result of road traffic incidents in 2010, 79% involving males and 21% involving females. In comparing statistics it should be noted that there is a difference in the method of calculating statistics for road deaths in Thailand (at the scene of the accident) and the WHO (within 30 days of the accident).
Many British visitors and residents ride motorbikes. 74% of all road traffic fatalities in Thailand involve two/three wheeled vehicles. A number of British nationals have been involved in these accidents, with some resulting in fatalities.
British Ambassador Mark Kent highlights the importance of the British Embassy working together with partners in Thailand to help raise awareness about the issue. Accidents do occur and not all tragedies are avoidable, but the outcome could be very different with many lives being saved and critical injuries reduced, if people adopted the same safety precautions abroad that they would naturally take at home.
The Embassy Consular Team provides assistance and support to families bereaved as a result of road traffic accidents and additionally, regularly assist individuals who have sustained severe head/ brain and other serious injuries caused by motorcycle accidents. Regrettably some of these people suffer life changing, incapacitating injuries. It is not uncommon for families to have the additional worry of mounting hospital bills as either the motorbike’s engine size or the failure to wear a crash helmet invalidates many travel insurance policies.
Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire visited Thailand in May 2013 and attended an event with the World Health Organisation, the Asia Injury Prevention Foundation (AIPF) and the British Standards Institute to raise awareness about road safety in Thailand. Minister Swire also ensured that road safety was highlighted during his meeting s with Thai officials. Furthermore, the British Embassy held an event on 28 October with the AIPF at Wat Chaimongkol school in support of their Helmets For Kids programme. We will continue to support such initiatives as part of our road safety campaign.
British nationals involved in an accident and needing consular assistance from the British Embassy should call the Embassy on 02 305 8333 and the Consular Team will do all they can to help. For more information on how to prepare yourself for driving abroad, visit our website.
Earlier this year the Foreign Office launched an online road safety tool to give people access to specific road safety advice for the country they will be driving in.
Some of the key factors behind accidents involving visitors abroad are:
- Research has shown that holiday makers abroad are most at risk of having an accident just 60 minutes into their first journey. Further information and tips for driving abroad can be found on the website.
- Visitors to a foreign country are one-and-a-half times as likely to have a serious accident when travelling in a 100-110 km/h speed limit zone as domestic drivers, because of unfamiliarity at driving at these speeds. Familiarise yourself with the local driving laws – including local speed limits.
- Vsitors to a foreign country are twice as likely to have a serious accident as domestic drivers because of driver fatigue. Don’t drive when you’re tired, jet lagged and take regular breaks on long journeys.
- An international or Thai driving licence is required to drive in Thailand.
- Travelling by motorcycle, scooter or moped is significantly more dangerous than by car - if you’re not accustomed to riding a motorcycle you should not attempt to ride one for the first time when abroad on unfamiliar roads. Always wear a safety helmet and suitable clothing.
- The probability of being involved in an accident increases for car drivers when renting a vehicle, but is six times higher for people who hire mopeds or motorbikes. If hiring, rent from a reputable company and check your insurance cover. Some motorcycles or scooters for hire in beach resorts are often unregistered and cannot be used legally on a public road. You could be held personally responsible for any claim for injury or damage if you are not fully covered. Check with your insurance company that you’re fully covered to drive abroad including breakdown recovery and any medical expenses resulting from an accident. Make sure your travel insurance covers you before you decide to drive or be a passenger on a motorbike - check the exclusions carefully.
- In the UK all drivers and passengers are required to wear a seatbelt and all motorcyclists wear a crash helmet and safety clothing. These simple but life saving measures are all too often forgotten or ignored when abroad.
- Don’t drink and drive. The legal blood-alcohol limit in Thailand is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. In the UK, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Sunday 17 November 2013 is The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and is held on the third Sunday of November each year. It is the day on which all those killed and injured in road traffic accidents are remembered, together with their families, the emergency services and all others affected or involved in the aftermath. In 1993 the UK road victim charity RoadPeace campaigned nationally and internationally for appropriate acknowledgement for victims of road traffic accidents and their families. This was adopted by the United Nations on 26 October 2005 and the day recognises that road traffic accident victims and their families deserve much greater recognition.
To mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims the British Embassy Bangkok is hoping to raise awareness of the day and warn people of the dangers of driving abroad. In 2010, there were over 28 million registered vehicles in Thailand, a high proportion of which are motorcycles and mopeds. Sadly road traffic accidents in Thailand account for the second most frequent cause of death among British nationals as well as a high number of hospitalisations. The majority of these involve motorcycles and mopeds. Although it is compulsory for the rider to wear a helmet in Thailand, many chose not to do so.