Thailand has the second highest road traffic fatality rate in the world at 36.2 per 100,000, according to the World Health Organization, with an annual estimate of over 24,000 deaths – about 66 deaths every day. Forty-eight or 73% of those daily deaths are motorcyclists. Close to 44% of the road accidents stem from drunk driving and 26% from speeding.
A video posted on a Thai news Facebook page shows a motorcyclist, who is not wearing a helmet, being hit by a car.
In June, Road Accident News noted that improved roads in Bangkok mean that vehicles are traveling faster, including motorcycles, whose riders often don’t wear helmets.
Internews’ Road Safety Fellowship, supported by the World Health Organization, enables journalists in Thailand to hone their investigative reporting capabilities to hold local authorities accountable and ensure the proper enforcement of traffic laws and regulations, as well as eventually push forward policy changes that will increase road safety measures all over the country.
“This experience taught me to report for change,” said Thanakorn Maneesri, one of the sixteen 2018 Fellows. “The local governor in my province has taken steps to solve road crash problems as a result of my stories.”
One goal of the project is to train Thailand-based journalists to use publically available data to better understand the risks associated with irresponsible driving techniques and poor adherence to the law. The journalists learn to use the data knowledgably and mindfully, integrating statistics in their stories to write critical advocacy pieces related to road safety.
Road Safety Champions
Attachai Nitisritalanun, a journalist from the Thairath online and print media platform of the province of Prachopkirikhan, said the training enabled him to become more comfortable using data to enhance his road safety stories, particularly one reporting on the province’s motorcycle campaign targeted to youth: “Wear a helmet for your loved ones.”
In recognition for his coverage of road crashes and his efforts to improve road safety, Jutaphong Na Ubon, a local print and radio journalist from the province of Ubon Ratchthani, received a MOJO award from the Thai Health Promotion Foundation. Along with advocating for road safety in his community, Jutaphong works with the Ubon Ratchthani Provincial Governor on provincial policies and best practices to reduce road accidents, monitor helmet compliance and promote safer roads. He used data from the Don’t Drink Drive Foundation to produce his stories and to question local police officers. (See Jutaphong’s video on a Road Safety Helmet Campaign in Thailand)
In August, Internews held a ceremony to recognize the efforts of all sixteen road safety fellows. Dr. Liviu Vedrasco, a representative of the World Health Organization, emphasized the importance of the work and urged the Thai government to set road safety as a national priority.
The six-month 2018 Road Safety Journalism Fellowship program was supported by the World Health Organization.