This Remembrance Day is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year, with the aim of remembering the millions of people killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families, the emergency services and all others affected or involved. It is also a chance to reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013 presents information on road safety from 182 countries, accounting for almost 99% of the world’s population. The report indicates that worldwide the total number of road traffic deaths remains unacceptably high at 1.24 million per year, with another 20-50 million people injured each year. Only 28 countries, covering 7% of the world’s population, have comprehensive road safety laws on five key risk factors: drinking and driving, speeding, failing to use motorcycle helmets, seat-belts, and child restraints.
A study this year showed that Thailand ranked number two of road fatalities in the world, with 44 road deaths per 100,000 people. Fatalities from road accidents made up 5.1 percent of Thailand’s overall deaths.
According to the Royal Thai Police, there were 6,185 deaths as a result of road traffic incidents between October 2013 and September 2014 (4,610 males and 1,575 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).
The British Embassy sees the number of road traffic incidents in Thailand as a cause for serious concern. Road accidents can have a profound effect on both the individuals involved and their families. A particular issue in Thailand is tourists renting motorcycles without having the correct licence or undertaking any training, and also riding motorcycles without wearing any safety equipment.
Ambassador Mark Kent said:
People would not ride a motorcycle in the UK without a helmet and proper clothing yet many do so when on holiday in Thailand
Before adding that:
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. Our Travel Advice advises that, according to Thai law, safety helmets must be worn when riding a motorcycle and I would encourage all British holiday-makers to think carefully before renting a motorcycle or quad bike. Be aware that roads and driving conditions can be very different in Thailand from the UK. And if you have not ridden a motorcycle before, I strongly advise you not to do so for the first time in Thailand.
The British Embassy consular team provides assistance and support to families bereaved as a result of road traffic incidents and regularly assist individuals who have sustained serious injuries caused by motorcycle incidents, including those with severe brain trauma and other life-changing or incapacitating injuries. It is not uncommon for families to have the additional worry of large hospital bills or repatriation costs as often the motorcycle’s engine size or the failure to wear a crash helmet invalidates travel insurance policies.
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. You can find more information on how to prepare yourself for driving abroad on our website.
Sunday 16 November 2014 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 incidents and their families. This was adopted by the United Nations on 26 October 2005 and the day recognises that road traffic victims and their families deserve much greater recognition.
To mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims the British Embassy Bangkok is attempting to raise awareness of the day and warn people of the dangers of driving abroad. In 2014, there are over 35 million registered vehicles in Thailand, a high proportion of which are motorcycles. Sadly road traffic incidents in Thailand are the second most frequent cause of death among British nationals as well resulting in a high number of hospitalisations. The majority of these involve small motorcycles and mopeds. Although it is compulsory for the rider to wear a helmet in Thailand, many chose not to do so.
In 2013, 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 FCO 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.
- Visitors 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 or 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.