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Bangkok road hazards on the rise
Publication Date : 21-08-2012
Vehicles falling off an expressway, cars plunging down a hole created by land subsidence on a road surface, giant billboards collapsing on passersby - all accidents that threaten the lives of Bangkok residents and are being witnessed more frequently in the hustle and bustle of the big capital.
But these accidents could be prevented if authorities paid more attention to safeguarding lives. Following the latest accident on the Ratchawipa expressway on Wednesday, Expressway and Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand governor Aiyanat Tinapai said ERAT would at the end of this month install crash cushions on 18 high-risk Y junctions in seven areas of its expressways.
He said the agency had already installed other safety measures including warning signs and lights, rumble strips on the surface, stickers 70 metres before Y-junctions - a safe distance provided vehicles are not travelling at more than 80 kilometres an hour. The cost of the crash cushions is Bt6 million.
Thailand Accident Research Centre (TARC) reports show accidents of high-speed vehicles crashing in core (major traffic) areas are caused by several factors including drivers' hesitation and poor vision caused by too short a distance for drivers to make a decision.
Drivers can save lives by driving slowly into junctions, and at night studying maps before travelling on unfamiliar routes, and avoiding sudden lane changes.
State agencies can help prevent accidents through simple and economical means such as extending the core area in order to increase the distance long enough for drivers to make a decision, and installing crash cushions in areas where core areas cannot be extended.
Following the catastrophic floods of last year, city roads have witnessed more land cave-ins. The first took place in March on Rama IV Road, followed by others on Rama III Road, in front of Charoenkrung Pracharak Road and on Chaengwattana Road. A survey by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration shows 114 spots in 32 districts face a high risk of land subsidence.
Deputy Bangkok Governor Theerachon Manomaipibul said land subsidence was caused by the expansion of urbanisation with more buildings, tap water pipe installations, and subway routes. He said the Department of Public Works had been using ultrasound systems to scan roads near canals and if cracks are found, road repairs are carried out immediately.
Meanwhile, the collapse of a giant commercial billboard that killed one person in Chom Thong district last Sunday was not unprecedented. Every year similar accidents happen not once but sometimes twice.
The incident prompted Bangkok Governor Sukumbhand Paribatra to instruct 50 district chiefs to check every billboard in their jurisdiction and a committee has been set up to review if present city laws and regulations are strong enough to prevent more accidents.
A survey conducted early this year found that 142 billboards violated city regulations, comprising 92 erected on the ground and 50 on buildings.