As Thailand heads into what is traditionally promoted as one of its two deadliest periods on its already deadly roads, a tragic video has emerged of a freak road death in Kamphaeng Saen District in Nakorn Pathom Province, central Thailand.
In the video above — Warning: Graphic content — a woman wearing a bright red top, but no crash helmet, is seen driving away from the surveillance camera, on the left side of the screen, heading towards Suphanburi. A time stamp indicates 07:19:18. Less than half a second later her fate is sealed when a wheel from a trailer-truck travelling in the opposite direction comes loose and pilots its own path forward.
Two seconds later it strikes the edge of a median strip and becomes airborne; one second later it lands on the central reservation, becoming airborne again, before appearing to land directly on the head of the 28-year-old motor scooter rider one second later, sending her crashing onto the roadway. The time; 07:19:22.
In time-honoured Thai tradition, police found the truck abandoned a short distance away. Investigations are on foot to locate the driver who legged it.
Thailand roads: The ‘seven dangerous day’ myth
Over the so-called ‘seven dangerous days’ of the 2016-2017 New Year period 478 people were killed on Thailand’s roads, an almost 26 per cent year-on-year (YoY) increase over the year prior. The number of accidents recorded over the seven days increased 17.7 per cent over the same period a year earlier, with 3,919 road crashes seeing 4,128 people injured.
Almost 67,000 people were arrested for drunk driving – which was blamed on 36.6 per cent of crashes – and more than 4,000 vehicles – some 75 per cent of which were motorbikes – were seized. Alarming given that motorbike riders were involved in 81.82 per cent, or 3,206 of the total recorded crashes.
The figures were not much better for the country’s second annual seven day road carnage festival, the Thai New Year/ Songkran April break. This year 3,447 road crashes nationwide killed 442 people and injured 3,656 others.
But wait. Exactly how extra dangerous are Thailand’s two so-called ‘seven dangerous days’?
In January 2016 Liviu Vedrasco, a technical officer who advises the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on road safety and other issues told Reuters that the concept of any seven day period being any more dangerous than any other was a nonsense. “It’s actually 365 dangerous days in Thailand”, he was quoted as saying.
For the 2016-17 New Year period road deaths averaged 68.28 people per day, while for the Songkran period the average was 63.14. Extrapolating the New Year figures equates to 24,922 deaths and some 215,246 injuries, while the Songkran figures extrapolate out to 23,046 annual deaths and 190,634 injuries.
According to figures compiled by Thailand’s Ministry of Interior (MoI), MoPH, and the Road Accident Victims Protection Company (RAVPC) Limited, 22,356 Thais were killed on Thailand’s roads in 2016, or about 61.25 people per day. Not so far removed from the figures recorded over the supposed ‘seven dangerous days’.
Between December 28, 2017 and January 3, 2018 more than eight million vehicles are expected to traverse the country’s major highways and roads, 1.4 per more than last year. The Thai government is vowing to pull out all stops to prevent another seven days of death and carnage on its roads.
While there has been a significant crackdown on interprovincial van operators — and even bus drivers will have to maintain a zero blood alcohol level in 61 accident-prone areas nationwide’, according to a recent announcement — a ban on passengers in the rear of pickup trucks mooted after a particularly grisly multiple fatality crash earlier this year remains a tribute to good policy and common sense surrendering to popularity and pragmatism.
As with most everyone else, when Thai’s start talking about the “seven dangerous days” on their roads, we wonder which seven days they are talking about, because in reality its a case of same dog, different hair.
Feature video MGR Online VDO