There is conflicting evidence as to what happened on the Pak Nam road in Chumphon province at 4.3o pm yesterday but what is not in doubt is that a large 10 wheeled oil tanker lost control and overturned right on to a motorbike carrying an Italian man and woman. They died instantly. The unfortunate couple had been on holidays in Thailand since the week before. Thai police detained the oil tanker driver at the scene for further questioning. Giuliano De Santi and Ilario Rizzo are the latest foreigners to die riding motorbikes in Thailand and they will not be the last. The figures show that nearly 50 people die every day in motorbike accidents in the kingdom. It makes Thai roads the most dangerous in the World. Yet, a World Health Organisation expert in 2017 pointed out that if motorbikes were excluded, Thailand’s roads would be as safe as Switzerland or the UK.

There is been yet another tragic loss of life involving foreigners and motorbikes on Thailand’s dangerous roads. This time it was an Italian man and woman who were crushed to death by an overturning oil tanker as they drove along a road in Thailand’s beautiful Chumphon province yesterday. They had only been in Thailand for one week. The danger posed by motorbikes in Thailand is startling. The facts and figures are there for anyone interested in calculating the odds. 50 people die from motorcycle-related road traffic incidents in Thailand every day. One World Health Organisation expert told an audience in Bangkok in 2017 that if motorcycles were excluded from the equation, Thailand’s roads would be as safe as the UK or Switzerland. Instead, they are the most dangerous in the world.

Yet another accident in Thailand involving motorbikes occurred yesterday afternoon when an Italian man and woman were killed in Chumphon province on Thailand’s southern coast. The accident happened in the Pak Nam area and was caused when an oil tanker on the road went out of control and overturned on to the couple. They were crushed on the spot. Thai police named the deceased man and woman as 42-year-old Giuliano De Santis and 37-year-old Ilario Rizzo. They were riding the same motorbike along the Pak Nam road approaching a junction when an oil tanker veered towards them at speed. The vehicle’s sudden turn at speed caused it to roll over on to their motorbike. The sequence of events and cause of the accident is being disputed as there some conflict of evidence between the driver and an eye witness at the scene both of whom have been interviewed by Thai police.

10 wheel oil truck crushed Italian couple riding a motorbike at it overturned in a sharp turn

When Thai police and rescue services arrived at the scene yesterday there was a huge petrol spill and it took two hours to complete the recovery work including the use of a crane to right the 10 wheeled vehicle. One eye witness said he saw the oil truck make a sharp turn at speed while the driver says his breaks went causing the catastrophe. The casualty and death rate involving motorbikes on Thailand’s roads is alarming and borne out consistently by the figures. All foreigners riding motorbikes in Thailand should exercise caution. The World Bank and the World Health Organisation have both urged the Thai government to address the matter. The danger of motorbikes in Thailand can be seen from an observation by a WHO expert in 2017 who pointed out that if motorbikes were excluded, Thailand’s roads would be as safe as Switzerland or the United Kingdom. Instead, they are the most dangerous in the world.

The accident happened at 4.30 pm. Thai police who arrived at the scene found the 10 wheeled Izuku truck and tanker lying on top of the couple and their bike. The scene was hazardous as the tanker was heavily spewing petrol onto the road. A crane had to be used later to remove the vehicle by rescue personnel after the oil spill was controlled and cleared up.

Oil tanker driver detained by Thai police

Thai police are reported to have detained the 64-year driver of the oil truck. He told them that he was paid to deliver petrol and fuel to oil stations through the province of Chumphon. He said he has worked at driving heavy-duty vehicles for 10 years without an accident. He explained to the police that as he had approached a junction, his brakes failed and this caused his oil tanker to overturn crushing the Italian man and woman on their motorbike. They just happened to be at the spot at that time.

Witness says oil truck was travelling at speed and turned sharply at junction causing it to overturn

However, this has been questioned by a witness at the scene. This man has informed investigating Thai police that the oil truck approached the junction travelling at speed and then attempted to make a sharp left turn. This, according to the witness, is what led the vehicle to overturn and kill the two Italian nationals. The Thai man was accompanied at the scene by his two grandchildren. He did know that there were other parties involved as he left the accident area out of fear for their safety when he saw the petrol emanating from the overturned truck in very heavy quantities.

Heavy oil spill delayed recovery operation

Thai police confirmed that fuel spill on the road was substantial and caused the rescue operation to take hours. They revealed that the Italian man and woman had only arrived in Thailand on the Thursday before, the 21st of February. The Italian man and women were accompanied by another couple who were some way behind them when the shocking accident occurred.

50 die every day on motorbikes in Thailand

At least 50 people die every day on Thailand’s dangerous roads riding motorbikes. 73% of all road traffic accidents in Thailand involve motorbikes. Many of them are foreigners who are often unfamiliar with Thailand’s roads and the uniquely dangerous environment they represent. Thailand has the world’s most dangerous roads aside from civil war-torn Libya. A stronger enforcement campaign is being implemented by Thai police in recent years to encourage respect for new safety laws which make it mandatory to wear motorcycle helmets and other regulations designed to ensure that foreigners are properly authorized to drive on Thailand’s roads. One UK expert, a motorcycle enthusiast with over 40 years experience, has told the Thai Examiner that he would not advise anyone without prior experience of Thailand’s roads, to ride a motorbike in the kingdom and if they did have such experience, to adopt a ‘defensive’ posture at all times.

World Bank has warned Thai authorities about the huge economic loss of road traffic accidents

News reports of foreigners being killed riding motorbikes, often in pairs, are now becoming quite commonplace. Each accident is a huge tragedy for Thailand and Thai officials but more so of course, for extended families outside of Thailand. The Thai government is also very concerned about the issue. It is coming under increased pressure from international bodies such as the World Health Organisation and the World Bank to address it. One World Bank report late last year emphasized that these deaths on Thailand’s roads disproportionately involved active young adults who represent a substantial loss to Thailand’s potential for GDP growth in future years. It warned that Thailand could face a loss of up to 22% of future GDP if this issue is not addressed. It found that from a number of countries worldwide, Thailand was the most impacted economically by road traffic accidents, in particular, motorbike deaths and injuries. The report also calculated the impact on Thailand’s booming tourism sector which keeps growing.

Without motorbike accidents, Thailand’s roads would be as safe as Switzerland or the UK

Motorbikes are at the root of the problem. For many young Thai people, these inexpensive vehicles are an essential mode of transport and the only option available. Dr Liviu Vedrasco of the World Health Organisation told a Bangkok audience in 2017 that if motorbikes were taken out of the picture, Thailand’s roads would be as safe as Switzerland or even the United Kingdom. A 2015 report highlighted an annual death rate of 26.3 people per 100,000 people in Thailand. ‘If you take motorcycles out of the equation, Thailand’s roads will be as safe as Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom,” Dr Liviu Vedrasco said.

As a foreigner in Thailand – you have been warned

 This is the highest figure anywhere in the world. This comes out at nearly 50 deaths a day. It is a highly significant yet consistent anomaly for nearly a decade now. It is one which should be taken as a clear and definite warning to any foreigner travelling to Thailand and planning to ride a motorbike.

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