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Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

A motorcycle safety campaign in Thailand?…

Another campaign for motorcycle safety is being launched in Thailand. And while this campaign is not the first, with the graves mounting up the motorcycle accidents can’t be ignored.

I don’t often see babies hanging off the side of motorcycles in Bangkok. Or tucked in front of the driver, or between a second or third passenger even. But on my recent trip to Krabi it was the norm. Driving around, especially in the mornings and late afternoons, it was common to see babies tucked somewhere in the mix of motorcycles and people. Even with expats (who should know better).

Helmet laws have been in place in Thailand for quite awhile but most riders in the countryside ignore the laws. Police included. In Krabi I was stopped by the police in a school zone. And what were they doing? The police were waving through kids getting out of school – most of the kids on motorcycles were without helmets.

But on March 1, the campaign for motorcycle safety comes into play.

Will it work? Unlike the sign below, I’m not ‘sure’ because there are too many TiT variables. The only fact I am sure of is my plan to report back in a month. And again, with photos.

The campaign for the safety of motorcyclists and passengers…

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

สวมหมวกนิรภัย
sŭam mùak ní-rá-pai
Wear hat safety (helmet)

ทั้งคนขับและคนซ้อน
táng kon-kàp láe kon-són
Both rider and passenger

1 มีนาคม 2554
nèung mee-naa kom sŏng pan hâa rói hâa sìp sèe
1 March 2011

เริ่มตรวจจับปรับแน่
rêrm dtrùat jàp bpràp nâe
start checking catch fine, for sure!

Basically, it says that on the 1st of March the authorities (in Krabi, anyway) will start checking to see if motorcycle riders and their passengers are wearing helmets. And if caught without, there will be a fine. For sure.

Motorcycle safety AND education is sorely needed in Thailand…

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

Ok, this family is traveling on the soft shoulder but how many vehicles in Thailand do you see swerving around? Tons. Weighing tons. And when a body is flying through the air, a helmet just might insure that it’s an accident without a fatality.

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

Check out this series of three photos. Two women. Two babies. One motorcycle. No helmets.

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

But who is driving? Who is in control of the motorcycle?

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

Are you sure? Really?

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

The female driver has a helmet but the back passenger in the headscarf does not (it’s Krabi, remember?) And the little baby tucked in front of the driver is sans helmet as well (but does sport a knitted blue hat).

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

Another noticeable and scary habit in Thailand is how close motorbikes travel to automobiles. There is no way this driver could stop on time if that car needed to brake fast; it’s an accident waiting to happen. Again, no helmets. And what’s going on up the road?

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

The ability to break fast is doubly important for trucks following motorbikes. Does that look like three car lengths to you? Again, an accident waiting to happen.

Motorcycle Safety Campaign in Thailand

I was going to ask if scarves make a difference in an accident but my lovely Muslim friends would slap me upside the head right quick. So I won’t.

More on the motorcycle safety campaign…

On and off we hear about horrific traffic accidents on Thailand and sometimes motorcycle safety campaigns follow right quick. The Phuket motorcycle helmet campaign hit the streets of Patong in 2010. Do anyone know if it’s successful? I was there for the motorbike convention but those riding the big bikes tend to have mighty fancy helmets to show off.

EDIT: I discovered this video over at the TV forum (CCTV of accidents in CM):

Will this latest campaign for motorcycle safety in Thailand take hold? We’ll see… we’ll just have to wait and see.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

15 Comments

  1. Catherine, I was just reading this afternoon, on a UK government website, that there are around 38 deaths per day, in Thailand, due to motorcycle accidents. I dread to think of how many incur life altering injuries, and how many are due to not wearing a helmet.

    Just the other day I witnessed a young farang girl slam into the front of a car, then into the side of a van, then up into the air and down…luckily wearing a helmet. But, can you believe it was her first time ever, riding a bike! Lordy! What a place to learn.

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned to you and on other blogs, that if it wasn’t for Stray wearing my new purple anniversary helmet, he may not have gotten off so lightly, injury wise. He definitely felt the smack of the bitumen on the side of his head, through the helmet.

    I walked by a police helmet blitz during the week. They had many riders lined up, issuing fines and tickets, but did nothing about those riding through car parks to avoid getting caught…one guy almost lost it going over a concrete barrier.

    Enough from me now. Cheers!

  2. I lied…I’m back. Are they enforcing REAL helmets and not those half hat pretend type, without any side protection?

  3. Good grief! I couldn’t imagine flying around in the air. I’ve been on one motorcycle taxi and it was not my choice (that’s what I get for being too shy to protest). I asked a lady for directions. She walked me over to a motorcycle taxi, shoved me on the back, and away I went! Zoom! I was scared stiff. And laughing. Nerves.

    Stray was one lucky guy remembering to wear that helmet. Did you suggest that he wear it or was it his idea?

    I’m not sure what helmets they are insisting on. I’ve seen those fake ones and they won’t save anyone. Like I mentioned (or meant to anyway), education is needed. Real education – laws are not enough.

  4. Cat, Unfortunately this program will do little to change peoples habits.

    In Pattaya I see hundreds of people riding on the wrong side of the roads, no helmet, 3-4-5 on a motorcycle, children in every position from the basket on the front of the motorcy to sandwiched between the rider and passenger and I even witnessed one motorcycle going down the street with 3 people riding while holding a 32 foot ladder to the side.

    O yeah I saw woman on a motorcycle breast feeding while she was driving!

    Until the laws are enforced on a daily basis and people are fined heavily nothing will change and even then the change will be hard fought.

  5. Hi Catherine, I think it isn’t just that people don’t wear helmets but that the ones they do wear are only for decoration. In fact wearing a cheap helmet could be worse than wearing no helmet because it gives a false sense of security. There is also the danger that these cheap helmets crack on impact and shrapnel could end up causing problems. I rode a motorbike for my first few years living in Thailand, but luckily I now have a car. I worked as a trauma nurse for a few years, and I’ve seen firsthand the damage that can be done in a motorbike accident.

  6. Talen, I’m not surprised to hear that. Pattaya must have the highest death/accident rates of Thailand. So many people not thinking + drinking = accidents waiting to happen.

    Paul, I noticed those awful ‘toy’ helmets. I’d suggest that Thailand publicize what happens after heads connect metal even at a slow 30 miles per hour but they already do. In full colour.

  7. Ah, the safety propaganda programs. . .they are in full effect in CM. I know friends who have had to go to the police station to pay the helmet fee fine. But they pull over everyone and anyone it seems. Scares the ba-geezes out of me – what can I say I don’t like cops!

    I feel like there needs to be a share the road kind of education thing. Two of my students have been in accidents recently – one in a car and the other on a motorbike. People don’t know how to drive (I know I sound like I am in the States) but honestly Thailand is not a car culture and with the income levels going up there are more and more cars on the road.

    And yeah, with all the tourists up here (as Snap mentioned), it gets even more challenging. I’m really amazed there are not more accidents but I think there needs to be everyone on the road kind of education.

  8. Lani, on my trip to Krabi it was the westerners with their babies on bikes that surprised me the most. No helmets. I know that some expats think the west has too many rules but this one makes sense.

  9. Catherine your quote about the police holding up traffic to let helmet-less school kids pull out on motorcycles says it all. Thailand will have a difficult job educating its people about road safety if its police turn a blind eye to so many traffic offences. Fining the kids would be a good start, after all they are Thailand’s future and they are the perfect ones to target.

    A lady breast feeding on a motorcycle…that would make the perfect photo to sum up the words TiT.

  10. Martyn, “after all they are Thailand’s future”. You are dead on with that comment because it is mostly the young people of Thailand who are being massacred. Googling (in English) we comes across the many deaths of westerners by motorbike.

    On a lighter tone… wasn’t Talen’s comment about the breast feeding lady a hoot? It was surely one of those ‘darn, I wished I’d had a camera’ moments.

  11. I wrote a Bangkok Post article called “A Hard Headed Problem” back in 1980 calling for a helmet law in Thailand. It took a while but it finally got implemented, although not very well enforced.

    Two weeks ago, a young Irish friend was coming home from a party at 2am. He had to travel down a dark winding stretch of highway. Around a bend was a parked pickup. Maybe because of the dark, or excessive speed, or whatever was imbibed during the party, or all of the above, my friend sideswiped the pickup and he flew off of his motorcycle. He had a helmet on but it wasn’t enough. His funeral was held back in Northern Ireland a few days ago. I have lost too many friends. Please wear a helmet, do not drink and drive, and slow down.

    Thanks cat for posting this.

  12. Oh Hugh, I am deeply sorry to hear about your friend.

    It’s over thirty years since you’ve penned that article and Thailand now has much more traffic on the roads but the helmet laws are pretty much ignored. Come on Thailand.

  13. The laws will be enforced in a few places for the duration of the campaign then it will be back to normal. Nobody is really serious about the issue.

  14. Catherine, I had to revisit this post after just passing a police pickup truck with two officers riding in the back…standing up :(

    Regarding your previous question, Stray was on his way to collect me, so just thought he’d try on my helmet for size! Lucky!!!!

  15. English, sadly I agree with you. But expats will continue to write about it in the hopes that something eventually sinks in.

    Snap, that’s just total craziness. Police? Crazy. How can they enforce safety laws if they don’t understand the concept? And it’s good to know that Stray has luck in his life (sometimes you need it out here :-)

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