There are many factors that go into determining how safe roads are for drivers. Some of those things are within our control - like maintaining appropriate speeds or signalling properly - while other factors are not directly within our control. In Thailand, one of the most dangerous places in the world we drive, the lack of control over driver safety is especially true for the country's poor population.
In an investigation piece by Hannah Beech on behalf of the New York Times, Beech demonstrates just how vulnerable Thailand's poor residents are when it comes to road safety.
"In Thailand, one of the world's most unequal societies, even roads have a rigid hierarchy, with the poor far more likely to be killed in accidents than the well-off and well-connected."
While rich residents have access to new cars equipped with the latest safety gadgets, poorer residents can often only afford a single scooter, scooters which can sometimes be loaded up with passengers due to the lack of public transportation outside of big cities. The prevalence of unstable single scooters on the road means that, even though Thailand's roads are well paved, accidents still abound.
The result of this inequality is glaring when one looks at the statistics. Thailand has the second-highest rate of traffic fatalities per capita, a rate that is quadruple that of the United, and also of Indonesia, a country that is less developed and has worse roads in terms of potholes.
"While the enormous macroeconomic cost of all these road deaths can be measured, what can’t be given a dollar figure is the personal toll inflicted on individuals by the inequality and impunity that menaces Thailand’s roads."
Hopefully with increased attention on the state of road safety in Thailand change can begin to be enacted.
For the full piece, read the original article in the New York Times.