Thu, January 27, 2022

perspective

Without drugs, one less horror on the road


Avoiding another truck rampage like the one on Soi Ekamai shouldn’t depend on just fate

An incident last week in which a truck driver reportedly high on drugs rammed his way down an Ekamai sideroad in downtown Bangkok – damaging more than 42 vehicles in his path – has offered lessons to learn and problems to fix. 
Mercifully, no one was killed or seriously hurt in the terrifying episode.
Police say the 27-year-old trucker refused to stop when traffic police wanted to pull him over for driving in a bus lane. He struck a police motorcycle and then went on a rampage, crunching into another 41 cars and motorbikes, some of whose occupants took flight in fear of their lives. 
Once stopped and arrested, police say, the driver confessed to have been high on “ice” – crystal methamphetamine – for three days so that he could continue earning money driving. Metropolitan Police chief Lt-General Sanit Mahathaworn said the driver had been prosecuted on drug charges on four previous occasions between 2011 and last July.
The trucker reportedly told police he always used drugs to keep him awake while behind the wheel. Yet his employer insisted that it routinely conducted urine-analysis tests on its drivers, looking for drug abuse, and had never found this man to be under the influence. The claim begs the question as to whether the driver managed to beat the tests by submitting someone else’s “clean” samples in place of his own. 
We often see motorists going on a rampage to escape the hand of the law, and illicit drugs are a common factor. In other instances, suspected drug dealers seek to escape police sting operations. It’s safe to assume there are many more unreported incidents than we hear about. 
The Ekamai horror has concerned citizens wondering how many other drug-addicted truck drivers are roaming the roads and highways. Such people are like time bombs ready to cause damage, injury and death at any time. The larger the vehicle involved in a road accident, the bigger the threat it poses. Clearly, if our thoroughfares are to be less dangerous, the police and other relevant authorities need to be stricter with truck drivers.
It’s likely that some people attempting reckless getaways are motivated in part by past bad experiences with corrupt police officers. Perhaps they simply don’t want to pay any more bribes and prefer the high risk of fleeing the scene, even if it means putting the lives of pedestrians and other motorists in danger.
There are many irresponsible drivers on the roads, and whether innocent people fall into their path seems to come down to little more than luck. Those who drive erratically without concern for their own safety or that of other drivers and their passengers are causing, with appalling frequency, the loss of life, disabilities and severe damage to vehicles and other property, ultimately hampering the broader economy. 
If escaping the fate of becoming a victim is no more than a matter of luck or prayer, we are relying too much on divine intervention. We should instead be able to count on legal measures to keep irresponsible drivers off the streets, along with the alcohol and drugs that so often fuel their misbehaviour. 
Let’s begin with the illicit drugs that the Ekamai trucker apparently depended on to get through a working day. Then let’s control the drunks better, and drivers’ inability to control their anger, which leads to incidents of road rage. In all such cases, driving licences should be automatically suspended for punishing lengths of time. Repeat offenders should lose their licences permanently. And anyone caught driving without a licence should also be barred from the road for good. 

Published : December 28, 2016

By : The Nation