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Thailand’s deputy prime minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan admitted to a seminar on road safety that the annual death toll in the kingdom was in excess of 20,000 people.
He said that the stats were particularly bad for motorcyclists with a death rate that was the worst in the world at 24.3 per 100,000 of the population.
The carnage on the Thai roads causes losses to the Thai economy of 50 billion baht a year, he noted.
Many of the victims are children and child support groups have called for education in schools from primary level up about the hazards on the roads.
Gen Prawit was speaking at the “Thailand Road Safety” seminar at BITEC Bang Na as Thai authorities and foreign groups gathered to discuss the issue.
It was conducted under a banner explained in English as “Play Your Part and Share the Road”.
The general said that worldwide deaths from motorcycles, pedestrians and cyclists made up 49% of all fatalities on average.
But in Thailand it was almost twice as bad, he said as quoted by Daily News. He said the government had been enacting measures to deal with this since 2011 and these would continue through to 2030.
What these measures were exactly was not specified.
The general mentioned 6,000 “new” cases of people being handicapped.
Dr Thanapong Winawong of a road safety group said that in the six years from 2011 to 2017 46,656 deaths were attributed to motorcycles with 5,375 pedestrians and 659 cyclists perishing.
Thaivisa notes that these figures appear to be very conservative given that most observers including international agencies put the annual death toll at around 25,000 people with motorcyclists making up 70% of the total.
Gen Prawit’s claim of 20,000 deaths annually could almost account for motorcyclists and their passengers though this was not clear from the Daily News report.
Child protection groups stated that in 2017 2,609 children aged 15-19 died on the roads up 30% from five years before. And 727 10 – 14 year olds also died.
They want this damning statistic to form a focus of government and social development policy. They are calling for safety awareness programs in schools nationwide from the primary level up.
Thaivisa notes that in a long article police enforcement was not mentioned once.
A policeman was one of the participants on the stage for a photo shoot.