According to official statistics, Thailand’s annual road death rate is almost double the global average.
Thai people know that their roads are dangerous, but they don’t know this could easily be changed.
Globally, road accidents kill more people every year than any infectious disease.
Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in America put the death toll in 2017 at 1.24 million.
According to the institute, the overall number of deaths has been more or less static since the turn of the century.
But that disguises a lot of changes in individual countries.
In many poor countries, road accidents are killing more people than ever before.
Those countries have swelling, young populations are fast-growing fleet of cars and motorbikes and a limited supply of surgeons.
It is impossible to know for sure, because official statistics are so inadequate.
But deaths are thought to have risen by 40% since 1990 in many low income countries.
In many rich countries, by contrast, roads are becoming even safer.
In Estonia and Ireland, for example, the number of deaths has fallen by about two thirds since the late 1990s.
But the most important and intriguing changes are taking place in middle income countries, which contain most of the world’s people.
And have some of the most dangerous roads.
According to researchers, in China and South Africa, traffic deaths have been falling since 2000,
and in India since 2012, and the Philippines reached its peak four years ago.
The question is whether Thailand can soon follow suit.
Rob Mckinney, head of the International Road Assessment Program, says that all countries tend to go through three phases.
They begin with poor, slow roads.
In the second phase, as they grow wealthier, they pave the roads, allowing traffic to move faster and pushing up the death rate.
Lastly, in the third phase, countries act to make their roads safer.
The trick, then, is to reach the third stage sooner by focusing earlier and more closely on fatal accidents.
How to do that?
The solution lies not just in better infrastructure, but in better social incentives.
Safe driving habits are practices which people know they should follow that often don’t.
Dangerous driving is not a fixed cultural trait, as some imagine.
People respond to incentives such as traffic laws that are actually enforced.
Questions 22 to 25 are based on the recording you have just heard.
Q22: What does the speaker say about traffic accidents in Thailand?
Q23: What do we learn from an American institutes statistics regarding road deaths?
Q24: What is said about middle income countries?
Q25: What else could be done to reduce fatal road accidents in addition to safer roads?