The death on Friday of Dr Waralak Supawat-Jariyakul, an ophthalmologist at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, led to an outburst of anger from netizens who accused Thai motorists of never caring about pedestrians.
The accident occurred on Friday afternoon when Dr Waraluck was using the zebra crossing at Phya Thai Road. She was struck by a Ducati big bike. She was admitted to Rajavithi Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. The policeman who was allegedly riding the bike later surrendered, according to reports.
Three contenders for Bangkok governor — Chadchart Sittipunt, Suchatvee Suwansawat and Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn — joined the debate on Monday with ideas on improving safety at zebra crossings.
Chadchart, a former prime minister candidate of the Pheu Thai Party, has announced that he would run for Bangkok governor as an independent candidate.
Chadchart said the most important factor in road safety is the strict following of traffic discipline by motorists, and future accidents could be prevented only by strict enforcement of traffic laws.
He said the traffic law required motorists to give top priority to pedestrians at zebra crossings. He cited Section 70 of the Land Traffic Act BE 2522, which requires motorists to slow down when a zebra crossing is in sight, but the off-duty policeman who hit and fatally injured the doctor did not slow down at all.
Chadchart said motorists must also comply with traffic signs that warn them about a zebra crossing ahead.
When motorists see the sign, they must be alert for pedestrians crossing the road and must stop to let them pass safely, but the big bike did not stop for the pedestrian,” Chadchart added.
He said violators of traffic laws must face severe penalties, both fines and imprisonment, and their driving licence must also be revoked.
“We can see that motorists are often lax in traffic discipline. They often run through a red light when they see no vehicles on the other way. We often see motorcyclists drive against the traffic and drive on sidewalks. We see double-parkings on the roadside,” Chadchart said.
He suggested that the BMA urgently implement the following measures on Bangkok roads to prevent more accidents:
▪️ Repaint zebra crossing to have bright and clear patterns and enlarge the width of the crossings to be clearly visible from afar
▪️Put up street lamps at zebra crossings and alert signal lamps to warn motorists
▪️Place warning signs to show a zebra crossing is ahead
▪️Instal CCTV to catch law-breaking motorists
▪️Zebra crossings used by many pedestrians must have on-demand traffic lights for them to press for motorists to stop.
Suchatvee, who has announced he would contest the Bangkok election under the Democrat Party banner, offered three proposals to make Bangkok roads safe.
First, he said, a road accident must not be allowed to fade from public attention like major cases in the past. Instead, a committee of experts should be formed to find out the cause of the accident whether it is a human error, a fault in the road design and environment, or an error on the part of the driver.
He said Bangkok must have an agency in charge of conducting an investigation when a major accident occurs and the agency should have different representatives, such as road experts, traffic engineers, medical experts, and independent experts, so they will be able to analyse and come up with solutions.
They may suggest changes to the road structure and the use of technologies to prevent more accidents, or propose stricter enforcement of the law depending on their findings, Suchatvee said.
Secondly, he said, the people and communities must send representatives to inspect the safety of sidewalks and zebra crossings in their community once in a while.
He said a road safety audit must be carried out by licensed experts and people’s representatives at least twice a year.
Thirdly, Suchatvee said, young kids must be instilled with the right attitude towards road safety and traffic law discipline from the time they are in kindergarten so that they can warn their parents to observe the law and grow up as traffic-law abiding citizens.
Wiroj, who has announced he would run as a candidate of the Move Forward Party, said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration must improve some 4,000 zebra crossings around the capital.
“Traffic lights and CCTV for speed checking should be installed at zebra crossings. Roads should be painted with patterns to warn motorists to slow down before they reach the crossings,” Wiroj said.
He said the Metropolitan Police Bureau should also be reminded to strictly enforce traffic laws, and motorists must be reminded to give priority to pedestrians at zebra crossings.
“From now on, zebra crossings must be safe zones for pedestrians. Never again should people be allowed to die on the crossings,” Wiroj said.
He said the Bangkok governor of the Move Forward Party will be empowered to carry out these measures to ensure safety for pedestrians.
Wiroj also visited the site of the accident. He said the current Bangkok governor must do something regarding the accident.
Published : January 24, 2022
By : THE NATION