UK Foreign Office moves to warn expats on Thailand road deaths

Published:  24 Apr at 6 PM
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The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is pushing a road safety campaign to alert tourists and expat residents overseas about dangerous drivers and road conditions in several countries.

The move comes as a response to reports of a high number of Britons in popular holiday and expat destinations being killed or injured in road accidents. The countries considered the most dangerous have been identified as Australia, Thailand and Spain, all of which have road accident and fatality number far higher than those in the UK.

According to the FCO, traffic laws, road and vehicle conditions and, particularly, local driving habits can make driving overseas very different from conditions in the home country. For example, Thailand, permanent home to 50,000 British expats and destination for 870,00 tourists annually, had a reported 68,582 incidents causing 9,205 deaths in 2011 as against 1,901 fatalities in the UK.

Road traffic accidents are the second most common cause of British deaths in Thailand, and account for a high number of hospitalisations. The majority of accidents involve scooters or motorcycles, with an increasing number also put down to poor maintenance of buses and overworked drivers.

According to the British Ambassador in Bangkok, Mark Kent, local driving standards are one of the major problems along with road conditions and poorly observed traffic laws. Driving late at night is particularly risky, as drink-driving laws are not adhered to and roads outside urban areas are badly lit.

Kent added that road traffic accidents exert a heavy toll on both the victims and their families, especially in the case of motorcycle accidents where a helmet has not been worn. Accidents do occur, he said, even to careful drivers, but taking stringent safety precautions would at least reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries to Britons in Thailand.
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