The Royal Thai Police (RTP) often come in for criticism and there is no shortage of video clips on the internet showing officers taking cash instead of writing out tickets for traffic violations. In recent years force command has taken a harder line against officers caught taking bribes or behaving badly, with dismissals a common occurrence for junior to mid-level cops, while transfer to an ‘inactive post’ is more common for senior police caught doing wrong until they eventually disappear from sight and the media.
In the undated video above Thai police are seen performing routine vehicle inspections on Sukhumvit Road near the Department of Land Transport (DLT) office in Bang Chak, a suburb of Bangkok, when a youth riding a motor-scooter is pulled over for not wearing a crash helmet.
The hapless motor-scooter rider attempts to blag his way out of the situation, before, in age old tradition, thrusts some money into the hands of the Thai police officer in. The officer then demands more, which is quickly slipped into his hand. The Thai police officer walks out of sight, telling the youth to wait.
Just when it looks like a clear case of corruption and the story of yet another dirty cop being exposed on social media the unexpected happens. The officer returns to the roadside and plonks a bight and shiny new helmet on the youth’s head, along with change and a receipt, before sending the youth on his way with a warning that he has to wear the helmet in future.
Thailand: world’s most deadly roads
In its Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Thailand second behind war ravaged Libya for the world’s most deadly roads on a number of deaths per 100,000 basis.
On a road fatality per 100,000 motor vehicles basis Thailand ranks 85th globally with 74.6 deaths, trailing Asean neighbours Singapore (42nd with 20.2 deaths), Malaysia (51st with 29.9 deaths), Indonesia (60th with 36.7 deaths), Vietnam (77th with 55 deaths), and Laos PDR at 83 with 67.5 deaths. Globally, for total road deaths in 2013, Thailand ranked 11th (See: Playboy Bunny Fearz Poonnada Killed Drunk Driving in Thailand).
During the recent Lunar New Year (Songkran) so called “seven dangerous days” on Thailand roads 442 people were reported killed, the highest number of road deaths over the holiday period for at least six years and 21.43 per cent more than the 364 killed in 2015.
Although drink driving was reported as the major cause of all accidents (34.09 per cent), authorities said four out of five reported accidents involved motorcycles (80.67 per cent), with motorcycle fatalities comprising 64.77 per cent of the total. Of the 246 motorcyclists killed in Thailand over Songkran 2016, 143 were not wearing a helmet.
The circumstances behind the above video are unknown, as too is who produced it. However, if genuine it’s certainly a much better image for the Thai police than one of them deftly sliding money into their pockets and an innovative and effective way to increase helmet ownership by motorcycle owners. Whether they wear them or simply carry them around in their basket or in front of their knees waiting to pull them on only when they see a Thai police officer is year to be seen though.
- Full Road Accident Statistics for Songkran 2016 (Richard Barrow in Thailand)
- Road toll soars to record 442 killed over Songkran (Bangkok Post)
- Thailand road toll for holiday period rises to 442 (ABC)