Thais Take to Social Media for Road Safety Revolution

Road Safety at Zebra Crossings in Thailand
Pedestrians cross at a zebra crossing in Bangkok, Thailand (Photo: Sanook).

Following several high-profile traffic deaths, including the death of a doctor struck by a motorcyclist in a protected pedestrian crossing, a surge of Thai citizens are using the hashtag #ThaiRoadSafety on social media to call attention to unsafe driving practices and to express concerns over preventable accidents.

According to The Bangkok Post, the #ThaiRoadSafety movement was sparked in part by the January death of ophthalmologist Dr. Waraluck Supawatjariyakul, who died after being hit by a speeding motorcycle while walking in a zebra crossing in Bangkok’s Ratchathewi District.

The Bangkok Post reports that the doctor’s death inspired advocates for safe driving to gather at Government House to petition Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon (Chairman of the National Committee on Road Safety Policy and Prevention) to impose harsher penalties such as manslaughter on violators of pedestrian crossing safety rules.

Users of #ThaiRoadSafety have called further attention to this issue by posting videos and illustrations of drivers striking pedestrians in supposedly protected zones.

As a result, governors of all 76 provinces in Thailand have begun organizing a road safety awareness campaign under the theme Campaign to Prevent Accidents on Crosswalks from 21 to 25 February.

Accidents in pedestrian crossings aren’t the only road safety issue garnering attention from Thai netizens, however, with the safety of children another subject of concern.

According to Thai news reports, a viral video clip of a young child standing on her mother’s motorbike while neither the girl nor her mother wore a helmet has led to reckless driving charges against the mother.

A four-month-old baby falling from her mother’s motorbike without the mother’s knowledge has also garnered the attention of the Thai internet.

Matichon Online reports that the mother admitted to being drunk when the incident occurred, highlighting the importance of more strictly followed drunk driving laws.

Fortunately, the child, who was hospitalized following the incident, has been reported safe.

Many others, however, have not been so lucky. Thai media reports that as of 20 February, traffic deaths in Thailand have numbered 2,109 since the start of 2022, which amounts to about 41 deaths per day.

The World Health Organization’s World Road Safety Report ranked Thailand first in Asia for traffic mortalities in 2018.

Laos was not included in the report.