With road accidents blamed for 20,000 deaths and Bt500 billion in financial losses every year, the government has vowed to invest in safety measures.
“We will revise the budget laws to ensure that local administrative bodies can make the utmost use of their financial resources in accident prevention,” Deputy Interior Minister Sutee Makboon announced at Bangkok a seminar on Wednesday.
The Road Safety Policy Foundation and the Road Safety Thailand Centre organised the two-day seminar in collaboration with other agencies.
The “Invest for Sustainable Road Safety” seminar, ending today, drew more than 1,500 participants.
Sutee emphasised that the government had made it a mission to reduce road accidents. It has banned speeding, driving while drunk or drowsy and use of mobile phones while driving and encouraged the use of crash helmets and safety belts.
“We will increase our investments in road safety,” Sutee pledged.
He said Road Safety Thailand Centre branches would play a key role, collaborating with local authorities in solving traffic problems.
“We have also assigned the Labour Ministry to increase its safety officials’ roles to boost safety,” he said.
Sutee said road accidents were responsible for half the deaths of social-security recipients.
“We will also improve law enforcement,” he said. The penalty for drunk driving might be increased, and the speed limit in urban areas could be set at 50 kilometres an hour.
As well, enhanced safety functions like anti-brake systems could be made mandatory for all motorcycles.
“We will also require that children be taught about road safety beginning in kindergarten,” he said.
He said the Road Safety Thailand Centre would work with academic institutions and other agencies in studying the cause of accidents and recommending preventive measures.
Road Safety Group Thailand manager Dr Tanapong Chinwong noted that the United Nations had declared 2011-2020 the Decade of Action for Road Safety.
“UN members, including Thailand, are encouraged to try to halve road fatalities,” he said.
Across the world, road accidents kill 1.3 million people every year and injure more than 50 million others.