Warn tourists about Thai driving habits, expert says

Wannapa Khaopa,
Kornchanok Raksaseri,
Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit
The Nation February 19, 2013 1:00 am

It is time for all foreign tourists to be informed frankly about how to travel safely in Thailand, an expert on accident analysis urged yesterday.

“They should know that travelling in Thailand is often different from their countries,” Assistant Prof Thaweesak Taekratok from the Crash Scene Investigation Project at Naresuan University said.

“A handbook should be distributed to guide each of them. We have to warn them of the improper or risky driving behaviour of Thai motorists, risky areas on roads and how rescue workers and medical officials assist with injuries.

“Doing this could not be considered damaging to the country’s image. You have to compare the effect from warning visitors about the facts before accidents occur, and when relatives of dead tourists begin digging up [details about] Thailand’s traffic problems and bringing them before the foreign media. Which one would cause the worst impact?” Thaweesak said.

He said his team found many foreigners injured in traffic accidents thought all Thai motorists must stop at a red light, but when they did that they had a collision. English communication problems by medical officials and rescue workers also led to misunderstanding among tourists. “So, they need to be informed in regard to accidents,” he said.

Meanwhile, relatives have not yet claimed the bodies of a British couple cycling around the world killed in a Thai crash last week.

Mark Kent, UK ambassador to Thailand said: “We are providing consular assistance on this tragic case. The FCO travel advice for Thailand has a section on road travel. This advice highlights the issues around road safety in Thailand. You can find it on our website,” he said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Chakkrit Sriwalee said the ministry had informed the UK embassy in Bangkok about the deaths of the couple and asked it to contact their relatives.

“Some foreign news agencies have reported in a way that might make people think roads in Thailand are not safe. The government is concerned that it might hurt the country’s image. We are preparing to find measures to prevent accidents and promote road safety including providing English language traffic signs,” he said.

Police charged Worapong Sangkawat, 25, the pickup driver who crashed into the couple, with reckless driving causing death.

Piyamarn Techapaibul, president of the Tourism Council, said the accident had had no impact on tourism here. In the long term, she said it would make little impression as readers understood it was an accident.

But she accepted accidents with bicycles and motorcycles were national concerns. The country saw many road deaths, not only among Thais but also foreign tourists.

The government should look for ways to boost road safety. It should keep the roads safe for every life, especially as a rising number of foreign tourists are coming here.

Thaweesak also urged Thai people to improve their driving.

source: The Nation Thailand