Dengue Warnings Issued Weekly – while Traffic Accidents Take Thousands of Lives

 | Fri 21 Jun 2013 11:44 ICT

The Public Health Ministry have released yet another report today June 21st informing the public that this year so far “49,000 people in Thailand have been infected with dengue virus, 59 of whom died.”

Dangerous driving is learned behaviour, it can be unlearned

While protecting ourselves against the fever is no doubt important, and of course if any symptoms should occur we should get them checked out, but we might ask about more pressing concerns such as road traffic accidents and fatalities, especially in view of last week’s horrific crashes in Chiang Mai that took the lives of children.

The ministry has urged hospitals to be ready for the dengue outbreak, while they have asked offices and schools and households throughout the country to take preventive measures such as, “including cleaning all water containers and sewer drains, using mosquito-killer sprays, and eliminating all mosquito breeding grounds.” It all sounds quite serious, but the fact is you’re about as likely to be killed from dengue fever as you are from tripping over a dog. Why all the news reports? Likely because it’s an (easy) issue worth taking issue with. Issues not worth taking issue with are the problematic issues. Why would anyone voluntarily ask for a really hard day’s work?

While the ministry of health can be commended for helping inform us about something we don’t need to be too concerned about we might be reminded of the millions, not thousands, of traffic accidents that maim and kill Thais and foreigners every year. The statistics are mind-boggling, but the reality of the situation consists of the people we know and love. It’s thought that around 10,000 deaths occur each year while scores of millions are injured in accidents, many of which could have obviously been prevented had laws been properly enforced or the people involved in the accidents known how to drive safely; had roads been safe to drive on, as well as properly lit; had the government issued countless warnings and help leaflets on safe driving, and offered FREE classes to drivers. Driving lessons in schools would also be a good start.

Thailand’s nefarious epidemic is not dengue, or drugs, or men in white masks, or ghosts, or rain, or critics of the great and powerful. Thailand’s most pressing concern is driving, it’s cars and motorbikes, roads and sleeping policemen. It’s time we read more news reports and government press releases explaining how are lives will be safer when we, or our friends and children, are on the roads. And I mean something more practical than hot-air and frivolous cartoon-based campaigns involving marching kids in uniform complementing the new mayor’s good looks. I’m talking all year round practical safety measures. Treatment for the disease of reckless driving. Road repairs. Checks on vehicles, especially large people carriers. Companies fined for using vehicles deemed unsafe. The National Anti-Corruption Committee to look into short-cuts and bribes apropos safety checks. Laws as to how long an employee can drive. Public transport improved and ubiquitous at night in all cities. Drink driving laws enforced, and enforced on everyone equally. Lights installed on dark roads. And as I say, driving 101 in all schools for all children. 

If Thailand is, as we are told daily, a country in progression, flexing its economic muscles for its creepy investing neghbours to see. If Thailand truly is the tourist paradise we are told it is in the trillions of public relations articles dumped into the internet. If Thailand is at last completely ‘siwilai‘ – as if this economic prosperity (for the 6% mind you) is like the cherry on the cake, then why is it that we have to risk our lives every time we take a vehicle onto the street? Answers, particularly from government house, on a postcard please.