BANGKOK: Advocates have called on the government to seek changes in the law to also impose manslaughter charges against those who violate pedestrian crossing safety rules.
Phra Norawich, or Pol L/C Norawich Buadok, lays a floral offering at the funeral of Dr Waraluck Supawatjariyakul. He and his father, left, were ordained as monks to make merit for the doctor. Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb
Thirty members of road safety and anti-drink-driving networks gathered at Government House and lodged a petition with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon in his capacity as chairman of the national committee on road safety policy and prevention, reports the Bangkok Post.
Theerapat Prayoonsit, permanent secretary at the office of the prime minister, was on hand to receive the petition.
The networks put forth the petition in response to the recent death of a doctor at a pedestrian crossing. Dr Waraluck Supawatjariyakul, an ophthalmologist with the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, was killed on Friday after being struck by a motorcycle ridden by an off-duty police lance corporal, Norawich Buadok.
His Ducati collided with Dr Waraluck at the pedestrian crossing on Phaya Thai Road in Ratchathewi district.
The networks said the incident, which has triggered a public uproar, hammered home the long-neglected issue of safety at pedestrian crossings.
Kruemas Srichan, coordinator of the Life Quality Development Network, said a study by the Road Safety Policy Foundation estimates about 500 people are killed in Thailand each year due to accidents at such crossings.
The figure accounts for 6% of road accident-related deaths. One-third of that number occur in Bangkok, according to the study.
She said it was important that all sides, especially motorists, respect traffic laws.
The networks have vowed to keep an eye on the police investigation into the fatal motorcycle accident. Ms Kruemas said wrongdoers who violate traffic laws often end up being given suspended jail terms.
Meanwhile, Jessada Yaemsabai, head of a network affiliated with the Don’t Drive Drunk Foundation, said people have the right to cross the road safely at marked crossings.
The law should be amended to make it possible to impose a manslaughter charge against any motorist responsible for the death of a pedestrian while using a zebra crossing, Mr Jessada said.
He added the existing traffic law must be enforced strictly and swiftly, and violators must face the maximum punishment under the law.
He also recommended the speed limit in city areas should be capped at 30k/ph.
The death of Dr Waraluck last Friday also prompted officials in Phuket to give the pedestrian crossing in front of Vachira Phuket Hospital a makeover in the hope of avoiding any similar incidents in Phuket Town.
Phuket City Municipality has had the pedestrian crossing in front of the hospital, the main government hospital on the island, coloured red with fresh white paint for the “zebra crossing” stripes.