Up to 26,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in Thailand, which puts the country in the 6th spot in terms of road casualties. Of those killed, up to 70 or 80 per cent are motorcyclists or their passengers.
These statistics were released at a press conference by Vice Interior Minister Silapachai Jarukasemratana yesterday.
He told the press that the key causes for the deaths were speeding, drunk driving or the failure to wear safety belts or crash helmets – all of which are offences under traffic laws.
Last year, just 43 per cent of motorcyclists and their passengers nationwide wore helmets, down from 46 per cent a year earlier.
Dr Witaya Chadbanchachai, who is collaborating with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in an accident-prevention campaign, said yesterday that relevant agencies needed to work harder on getting people to wear helmets.
Silapachai said that since 1996, all motorcyclists and motorcycle passengers have been required by law to wear a helmet.
“Without helmets, both motorcyclists and passengers face the risk of sustaining serious head injuries in road accidents,” he said.
According to the 2011 World Road Statistics, Thailand was one of the top five countries with the highest number of motorcycle-related deaths.
Danai Ruangsorn, president of the Thai Roads Foundation, said the percentage of children wearing helmets on motorcycles was also very low.
“Just 7 per cent wear a helmet,” he said.
Last year’s survey showed that only about 28 per cent of teenage motorcyclists and about 49 per cent of adults wore helmets. Bangkok had the highest number or 80 per cent of helmet wearers, while only 20 per cent of motorcyclists in Beung Kan, Lamphun, Chaiyaphum, Narathiwat and Nakhon Phanom were found wearing helmets.