Poorly Skilled Drivers And The Law: Thailand
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Posted 2012-09-14 06:50:50
Poorly skilled drivers and the law
Apart from the regular launching of new models, the big news concerning automobiles in Thailand is the fatal road accidents.
BANGKOK: -- While some accidents lead to many deaths, other accidents may have just one casualty, but even the name of the driver involved can make headlines.
There have been two cases that recently became big news. The first one involved a 16-year-old female driver that crashed her car with a van on the tollway, resulting in the deaths of 9 people. Society has been blaming the girl to a point that people are not willing to listen to any reason, even though the court of law has already come out with a verdict.
The second incident, which just took place, also drew much criticism for many reasons. The first is that the car that hit and killed a policeman on a motorcycle was an expensive Ferrari sports car, so this was enough for society to point fingers at the rich driver. Second, was the fact that the motorcycle rider was a low-ranked police officer, and third was that the Ferrari driver is the son of a famous business magnate, thus news like this would surely sell. Fourth, the driver fled the scene, and another person initially came out to take the blame instead. All these reasons are great ingredients for a big story.
After each big accident, I am always interviewed by various media for comments, whether in terms of analysing the incident as well as finding preventive measures. These two accidents are no exception.
But what I want to say today might not be about who is right or wrong, but concerns a question raised by a newspaper. It asked "why do fewer and fewer people know traffic rules and drive with extremely bad manners than in the past?"
I answered that what has happened is the lower quality of driving that happens not just in Thailand. The reason for people these days driving without much care is the increasing number of automobiles being produced around the world. As more cars are made, it is normal for manufacturers to stimulate more people to purchase them, otherwise they will surely suffer an oversupply. So manufacturers must do everything to sell the vehicles, which mean that they are unable to choose in selling the cars to people who have good driving skills.
Auto-makers know full well that they must sell vehicles to inexperienced and less capable people. And you can see that today there is a much larger number of driver assistance systems being fitted to automobiles, so that it is easier for inexperienced drivers to drive a vehicle. These features are offered along with the words "innovative new technology", and it also makes the automobiles more expensive as manufacturers have a reason to mark up the price of the vehicle.
For example 30-40 years ago, many drivers would find it very difficult to stop and start the vehicle on an incline such as a steep bridge. That's because most vehicles in those days came with manual transmission, which required good driver skill when faced with this situation. If the clutch was released too quickly or with the wrong timing, the engine would likely stall or the vehicle would jump forward and hit the car in front, or roll back and hit the car behind. Engaging the clutch to keep the vehicle stationary on the incline would also lead to clutch damage.
Well, today the "Hill Start Assist" function gets rid of this problem as the wheels are locked when the vehicle stops on an incline, and the wheels are released only when the accelerator pedal is pushed once again.
When going downhill, there is also the "Hill Descent Control" function that automatically maintains a stable speed (7-10km/h). In fact, there is a large number of driver assistance systems being put into the brakes, such as ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), EBD (Electronic Brake Force Distribution) and BA (Brake Assist)
There are even automatic inspection systems that tell you when the tyre pressure is too low or when it is time to change the timing belt. There are also warning systems for the seatbelts, doors not closed properly, etc.
Manufacturers say these systems are fitted into modern cars to make life easier for car users. But in reality, manufacturers fear that if users were to carry out their own inspection, they could forget and this could lead to damages or accidents that tarnish the reputation of the brand itself.
So the problem of poorly skilled drivers on the road today seems inevitable, and this happens in every part of the world, especially in countries with poor law enforcement and a high growth rate of automobiles. Anyone who has driven in China would find that this is one of the countries where road traffic is heavy and rather confusing. Thailand also ranks high here, especially during rush hour in Bangkok or during long holidays.
The important thing is that when manufacturers invent and provide us with various driver assistance systems, the driver must also learn to adapt so that they can fully make use of these features.
Most importantly, we must strictly follow traffic laws, while authorities need to enforce them evenly in every area. This will more or less help ease the situation we are all facing on our roads today.
-- The Nation 2012-09-14
Posted 2012-09-14 07:07:19
Almost sounds like the diversionary tactics which appear in threads.
Forget any bad driving issue in Thailand because it happens all over the world
Posted 2012-09-14 07:08:39
I always suspected the seatbelt warning light to be the true cause for the "road war" in Thailand. Many thanks for confirming that.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:10:21
Road safety enforcement in Thailand is poor going on diabolical at times, and there's no reason for it except a lack of education. There are plenty police check points, and plenty opportunities to intervene in obviously stupid driving practises such as overloading, having people unrestrained in the back of pick ups, as well as checking vehicle safety.
I've seen the police apply themselves to this before, and it makes a difference. I've seen them setting up road blocks all over Chiang Mai in pursuit of drink drivers and sending a message out that isn't acceptable.........however!!!
It all starts with the licensing and testing, which from what I can see is a joke. They are going to have to dramatically improve the testing before the issuance of licenses before they will see any real long term difference. I've seen too many people splattered, literally splattered across the road already in Thailand.
They need to get the foundation right, and work on constant education and road safety campaigns.
ps before the usual suspects come out with the " Thailand is not a nanny state " crap.........stand back and watch children being shovelled off the road and tell me if you think that type of freedom is worth it? We all have the right to life, and not to expect to be slaughtered by some drunken lunatic driver.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:16:24
That's an example of what I'm talking about, Thailand should be looking at best practise, not worst practise. Accidents will happen worldwide, and there is bad driving worldwide, but that doesn't excuse the needless slaughter that we see in Thailand.
I'll never forget the sight of two people being thrown from the bed of a pick up at 70mph, I didn't know the human body could bleed so much. It's one thing adults being killed in this way, but every year hundreds of children are thrown to their deaths in this way too.
No excuse, inexcusable murder of the innocents. It has to stop..........so the poor skills headline is correct.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:17:34
What a load of bull.
The problem is a total disregard of traffic laws, both by drivers and law enforcement.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:28:43
many people don't know traffic rules. corruption is the major cause. issuing driving license is too easy.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:39:41
Not only do Thai drivers not know the rules of the road, many of them aren't aware that there are rules. The Blether is absolutely correct about the lack of enforcement, there are enough police to do much more than they are. There also seems to be a class issue, if I drive a new Benz and you are driving a fifteen year old Ford, you should get out of my way attitude.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:48:41
Very stupid to blame car manufacturers. They are not to blame it is the drivers and the police
for not upholding the law.
Thailand has a GO-CART area to drive around for one to pass a test, with noone sitting beside them
and even this can be passed with a few baht backhander (I have seen it done).
There is no proper driving training in Thailand. How many cars do you see with 'L' plates.
(I believe I have seen onein the 5 years I have lived in Thailand).
Many drivers especially those from the rural areas drive without a driving licence. Not just motorbikes,
cars but also 6 (or more) wheel base lorries.
The police do sometimes stop and check at road blocks but give a paltry fine then let the driver
go only to do the same offence time and time again. No points deducted from licence, no bans for repeat offenders. No confiscating of vehicle.
It is the system at fault not the manufacturers. If anything the manufacturers prevent even more accidents
by using new technology.
Posted 2012-09-14 07:53:06
Biggest load of rubbish that I have read this year.. and I have read a lot of rubbish !!
Surely if the cars are fitted with all the latest safety features & aids to the driver then the number of accidents should be dropping?
Cars DO NOT cause accidents, it has been & always will be the person behind the wheel making the decisions.
Yes I agree sometimes pure accidents do happen.. but rarely!!
It doesn't matter what the drivers budget is, or even if the car is a brand new model off the showroom floor or a second hand model a few years old.
What matters most is that the driver has taken enough driving lessons with a qualified instructor, has studied & understands the highway driving code.
That they understand all the roadside signs, the road surface signs, the traffic signals etc.
Also when they have reached a suitable level of daytime driving ability they are taken out for night time instruction.
Also skills like road side parking or reversing properly.
All these skills should be attained during a properly supervised training period, then a strict test of driving skills, a written test, & a verbal test taken to ensure they have the ability to take a vehicle onto the road.
Then the person would have the ability to drive not only a shiny new car but an old banger too!!
It appears that in some regions if you can turn the key & start the car and know how to move forward then you are qualified, unfortunately these skills don't keep you alive for very long!!
Posted 2012-09-14 07:58:19
As one who has been actively involved in road safety for over 23 years and has experience of 38 countries I can tell you it is easy to point the finger at the driver. However, someone trained that driver and even more relevant, someone tested that driver and deemed the driver to be safe and competent!
Lets put aside the usual corruption chat for a moment. It is far to easy to become a driving instructor and even easier to remain one. There are no standards bodies to monitor the quality or effectiveness of training. The testing, like nay exam, should be subjective based upon a syllabus. There is no syllabus and the testing is objective (I'm a uk advanced examiner & accident investigator).
I'm presently teaching my wife to drive and some neighbours are asking why it's taking so long, well it's about safety and standards and she now knows the difference! However, she will be tested by a clueless clown even though her standard and knowledge of driving is far superior to them!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:00:16
"After each big accident, I am always interviewed by various media for comments, whether in terms of analysing the incident as well as finding preventive measures."
I can't imagine why because you are obviously clueless. Maybe they just want to see which necktie you have chosen for the interview...
Posted 2012-09-14 08:02:07
I will also add a relevant point about car manufacturers. The adverts on Thai TV would be banned in UK/EU as they show speeding and aggressive driving also in one ad, very poor and unsafe driving!
If standards were higher cars wouldn't sell and that has been proven in the USA when Ralph Nader took on the motor manufacturers; money is all that matters!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:04:08
I would question the 'benefit' of automation devices on cars.
Driving, as opposed to sitting behind the wheel with your foot on the 'stop/go' pedals, is more than being able to make the vehicle go.
When a neighbor visits, I have to reverse the truck out of the road for her!
My wife terrifies me when she drives. Even when she isn't 'sight-seeing' as we drive along, I barely get the impression she knows what car is in front, let alone what's happening in the general traffic around us.
IMO, driving involves anticipation. Having gadgets adds to the problem. Driving shouldn't encourage drivers to think less.
As has been stated, law enforcement, or rather the lack of it, is a major part of the problem. Is a red light 'stop'?
Most motorbikes I come across, ride defensively - mind you there are plenty of kamikaze exceptions.
My attitude has been - indicate early, they might not like what you're doing but at least they know what you're going to do.
Posted 2012-09-14 08:08:49
Driving standards are not that bad in Thailand are they...
Edited by DDuval, 2012-09-14 08:09:02.
Posted 2012-09-14 08:17:17
In reply to the above post is that if someone is "indicating" then absolutely DO NOT on any circumstances believe them.
It's probably still in this position from the day before!!
My observations trained me from a very early stage the best policy is to look, look & look again then look again before moving.. I'm still alive.
The above post #12 by NangrongJ you are 100% correct.. good luck to your wife.. she'll need it, although you have obviously taught her well you can't account for the other road users!!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:18:59
Driving isn't about the physical aspect of handling a car, that's the easy part; driving is about hazard perception, interpreting risk and making decisions based upon that! I know from watching drivers here that there is a pattern of emerging from junctions without effective observation, they just go! This is partly down to a lack of control ( as stated) but most importantly, a lack of constructive training! Far too often driver will change lanes, turn or just go without checking mirrors!
Driver training has never and will never, on its own, cure road safety. The 'formula' for successful road safety is a combination of the 3 'E's; Education, Engineering and Enforcement. All three are weak if not non-existent in Thailand. This is one of the reasons why Thailand is not listed in the world road safety statistics as it's non-compliant! Although Cambodia is listed and has made great strides!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:21:56
Fareast guy - you are correct. I've trained her well but it's the other drivers! Yesterday we were waiting to turn right into a minor road, as she was about to go the car behind overtook us and cut the corner fully - all this in the view of a policeman who was guiding traffic (school time)! The bad driver behind will do it again as he seen nothing wrong with it because the police let it go!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:22:04
Sorry - I neglected to say that I spend all my time with eyes in front in mirrors, glancing over my shoulder. Never have too many eyes! Perhaps we need to redesign humans!
I fell foul of the 'assumption' trap when I made my post
Thanks for pointing it out
Posted 2012-09-14 08:27:03
Garbage......the laws aren't taught in the first place.....have you seen what's involved in the Thai driving test? It's a joke.
Posted 2012-09-14 08:27:45
You have got to be JOKING!!!!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:29:22
Driving instructor ? In Thailand ? You just arrived here, right?
Here's a quote from an ex-gf, one with university exams and all:
"I'm planning on getting a drivers license. I consider learning how to drive a car also."
She told me that the license was just 500 baht, but taking lessons was much more expensive, so that had to wait.... like forever?
Posted 2012-09-14 08:30:20
I also find it hypocritical of Thai newspapers (all of them) to comment on driving yet they don't have a road safety column or even columnist! Anyone can criticise driving as the author has done but he doesn't provide any constructive answers! I can't play a musical instrument but I can tell you when something is out of tune! I'm not a chef or much of a cook but I can tell you if something doesn't taste right!
Thai newspapers are taking vast sums of money from motor manufacturers in advertising yet there isn't one road safety column and I've yet to come across a road safety expert in this country. I know because I've written many road safety columns in many newspapers and magazines in UK and other countries including Arabic countries but Thailand isn't interested because there's no money to be made in it!
Posted 2012-09-14 08:31:44
Zakk 9 I've had a home in Thailand for 6 years but I travel the world as a training consultant.
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