Thai police are taking an alternative approach to their annual road safety campaign by offering cash prizes of 10,000 baht (£240) for the best – or worst – videos of traffic violations.
About 22,000 people die each year in Thailand in road traffic accidents, one of the worst death rates in the world. The week over the new year, known locally as the “seven dangerous days”, has the biggest spike as people speed around the country.
Last year, 333 people died and 2,672 were injured between 29 December and 4 January. So far in 2022, 14,501 people have died and 917,144 have been injured on the roads.
Launching the safety campaign, the national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas told reporters that about 7.3m vehicles were expected to travel on the roads during the new year period.
The campaign aims to increase awareness of road safety and reduce the number of traffic accidents but some responses have criticised it for encouraging people to perform stunts or film while driving.
“From the little I have read, it could be a high-risk form of road safety campaign if it gives airtime to bad, poor or unsafe traffic behaviour or if it encourages pairs of drivers to set up violations to be filmed,” said Phillip Jordan, an international road safety engineer from Australia.
“Only in Thailand would there be such a contest – and with police as the judges too,” wrote one Twitter user, while on Facebook another called it a “hare-brained idea”.
However, Mark Ritchie, the executive director of Thailand’s International Sustainable Development Studies Institute, said he could see the initiative being popular. “Thai culture values ‘sanuk’, or fun, so this is a pretty brilliant way to raise awareness,” he said.
As part of the week-long road safety campaign, more than 50,000 police have been deployed to enforce seatbelt and helmet use and increase testing for drink driving.