Whilst safety standards in most of the Western world are high, the same can’t be said in The Land of Smiles where a combination of badly maintained roads, unroadworthy vehicles and shoddy standards of driving has resulted in serious traffic accidents occurring daily.
To combat this problem the transport authorities have sought to improve road conditions, installing warning signs and lights in conjunction with guard rails, elevated expressways and impact attenuators near recognised danger spots.
The biggest cause of concern however remains reckless van and bus drivers and owners of heavy goods vehicles, who are renowned for their use of amphetamines to stay awake on long haul journeys.
As a result of drivers continually disregarding speed limits, Thailand’s Department of Land Transport (DLT) has now placed a maximum speed limit on expressways, tollways and inter-city motorways.
Tightening road safety standards
In a partnership with the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and Transport Co, the DLT has also started to use radio-frequency identification to monitor the speed of passenger vans, as a means of ensuring effective enforcement.
This, the DLT say, has helped significantly cut the number of accidents involving passenger vans since its introduction in April last year. In the first month of checks, around 800 drivers were found to have exceeded the speed limit, with the number having dropped to 100-200 per month since, also having a knock-on effect on van insurance claims.
Director-general of the DLT, Somchai Siriwatanachok, said first time offenders who break the speed limit are fined 5,000 baht, with the fine doubled to 10,000 baht in the event of it happening again. Repeat offenders would also see their van licences revoked.
With the number of accidents steadily falling, there are now plans to extend the application of speed tracking devices to a full range of public transport vehicles, with more vehicles also set to be equipped with GPS systems.
Wattana Patarachon, DLT deputy director-general, said GPS-tracking devices allow authorities to monitor the speed of public transport vehicles in addition to the work hours of their drivers.
The measure currently covers the standard Transport Co inter-provincial buses that run between Bangkok and surrounding provinces, as well as trucks carrying hazardous materials and farming vehicles.
As the public are made more are aware of road safety in Thailand, passengers are also being encouraged to file complaints about drivers responsible for bad driving so that authorities can take any relevant action.
Have you visited Thailand? Experienced any scary moments on the road? Would these moves make you feel any safer whilst travelling by road in the country?