I literally refuse to drive a 4 wheeled vehicle in Pattaya. I ride with Thai friends in their trucks/cars/SUVs and half the time I'm wondering how we managed to get (wherever) without having an accident. Yet about the only time I ever hear a horn honk it is from a farang driver.
The accepted "Thai style" of driving is so contrary to how driving is taught/enforced in most "western" countries, I'm not sure I could ever be comfortable driving a car/truck here. Motorcycles are bad enough.
It's no excuse for driving drunk at any time, but the Thai method of basically forcing your way into traffic and expecting everyone else to yield to you takes a long time to get used to. Doing it in a high-speed, hi traffic area ? I watch people whip over into the far right hand lane just before a u-turn and then fly down it to pass people in the "inner" lanes. Woe be to anyone trying to do a u-turn if they aren't paying attention.
As previously mentioned though, had this been anyone other than an actress, it probably wouldn't have made the news at all. Had both vehicles been driven by Thais, it probably wouldn't be newsworthy either.
Thailand has a long way to go towards improving road safety, but it can be done. I marvel at how the traffic flows Dubai, especially considering who make up the majority of people driving on those streets. Traffic is very heavy at times.but I never see the chaos like what happens at the various intersections along Sukhumvit (where cars continue through the intersection long after the lights have changed, blocking oncoming traffic and sometimes stuck there until the next light).
Most everyone (in Dubai) obey the speed limits, move aside to allow emergency vehicles through and wear seatbelts/helmets (as far as I can tell any ways). Considering that most of those drivers are from India/Philippines/various African countries and other ME countries, I am surprised at how well mannered they are (and yes, I've been to India/Philippines and other ME countries and seen how they normally drive there).
Guess it goes to show what proper policing and traffic enforcement can do given the chance. I look around at all the people wearing helmets on their scooters these days, even on the side sois away from where the police usually set up their check points and remember that it wasn't all that long ago that helmets weren't even mandatory at all !
Seems every week now the BIB do a couple hours of "enforcement" on motorcycles on Sukhumvit (heading towards South Pattaya road from Central Pattaya). The number of people getting nailed for no helmets/licences/registration seems to be quite large, but give it time and eventually people will learn and the numbers will drop.