The “Seven Dangerous Days” of road safety have passed and the results did not look sufficiently good. This has made us look back to the 2013 report of world road safety where 38.1 per 100,000 died from road accidents. This figure indicates that Thailand’s death rate is on the world’s top three. This signifies that road accident adversely hinders livelihood, economy, and the country’s development. It is, therefore, necessary for serious collaboration among several sectors of the society. The media and the press are an important part of the solution mechanisms.
The 12th national symposium on road safety organised under concept of “Half a decade of Serious Suppression” led by Dr Udomsin Srisaengnam, ThaiHealth advisor, has touched the role of the media on the tackling of road accidents. Dr Udomson said that the media shall spread the words to the general public for the benefit of the society. So this is believed to be the main drive to help reduce Thailand’s road accidents. However, it is noticeable that media activities that involve “investigative journalism” are scarce.
Dr Udomsin reiterated, if the media only report the news about road accidents without investigative portion where culprits and responsible parties are sought, while presenting ways to prevent future events, creating awareness of safety to the public. He also said that we had been too careless about this in the past.
Mr Prasong Lertratanawisute, Director of Issara Institute, in his capacity as a member of the press, commented on the Thai society’s views on public safety that the laws governing the country’s road safety are not strict enough. For example, parents that are riding on motorcycle are wearing helmets while their child on the same vehicle doesn’t. They ride past a traffic police officer and nothing happens. Bus drivers are deprived of their high salary and are often thought that their job is unimportant. When they earn low salary, they need to compete in order to get more passengers. The risks are in everyday activities. The first thing is we have to lay out a firm foundation for road safety which the press cannot be in charge of everything. There should be an organisation that regulates and educate the public about road safety issues where the press will understand the width and the depth of the whole structure. Because the press are known to report such news as supernatural events.
About the campaign, Issara Institute has collaborated with Road Safety Foundation, Road Safety Policy Foundation, Road Safety Group Thailand, and ThaiHealth, to organise a contest of investigative news where newspaper journalists expressed interests in participating. This signifies that more editorial teams see the importance of road safety. However, the number of printed media is continuously decreasing because they think they could not make the news more interesting than those of television media.
“Journalist training sessions will continue to be organised with more intense frequency, covering broader issues, and stimulating television station owners to see the importance of the problems. At the same time, we are trying to create more online campaign to serve the online society that is growing bigger every day,” Mr Prasong concluded.
Looking deeper to the core of the issue, the press and the media are an important player to help the society reduce the count of road accidents. But to achieve the target by 100%, everybody must pay attention and seriously think about safety measures and traffic laws.