The Exploding Accident Rate In Vientiane

The number of Lao people killed in road accidents is greater than the figure of those killed by bomb attacks in Pakistan, to make a somewhat bloody comparison.

The bomb attacks in Pakistan hit the international headlines daily as innocent lives are lost. Meanwhile here in Laos people are dying every day but their deaths go largely unreported.

According to a Xinhua report recently, at least 824 people were killed and 2,339 others injured in 372 bomb attacks including 26 suicide bombings that occurred across Pakistan.

In Laos it is not bomb attacks taking lives but traffic accidents. In 2013, 873 people were killed in road accidents nationwide.

Meanwhile unofficial reports indicate that more than 1000 people lost their lives on the roads in Laos in 2014. Granted this is a little different from bomb attacks but the consequences are just as deadly.

Accidents may not be intentional but the reckless abandon shown by many drunken drivers is sometimes staggering as they hurtle along at dangerous speeds while barely in control of their faculties.

Source: Lao-dd.com, video shows accident in Thailand who has Asia’s most deadly roads; anyone living in Laos is familiar with such tragic roadside scenes

Those who have witnessed one of these tragic roadside scenes after somebody is mown down and certainly the relatives of those who have died would agree that the speeding and drunken drivers seen all too commonly on the streets of Vientiane are little different from ticking time bombs, in effect.

Literally, they are an accident waiting to happen and it is not a matter of if but when. In Laos, the greatest number of fatalities was reported in the capital. However, despite the alarming number the real number of deaths may actually be higher.

Many of those who are mown down at high speeds don’t make it to the hospitals – they die on the roads.

Those unfortunate souls who have to be scraped off the pavement are taken away for immediate cremation due to the nature of their disfigurement. They might never enter into the official statistics book.

Anyone who lives in the capital knows all too well how common accidents are. Asian Development Bank (ADB) research conducted into road related injuries and deaths in Laos back in 2008 illustrated the gross underestimation by official statistics compared with actual figures.

For example, in 2008, 471 road related deaths and 6,231 injuries were officially reported to Lao authorities. But hospital reports and social surveys conducted by the ADB give estimates pitching the combined injury and death figures at around 18,900.

Meanwhile in a 2011 study into the impact of the completion of ADB funded Road No 3 in Luang Namtha province it was noted that “The rate of traffic fatalities in Laos is 19 per 10,000 vehicles, which is about double the rate in Southeast Asia and nearly ten times the rate in the United States.”

These figures illustrate the very real dangers of road developments and vehicle proliferation without the related education, safety, law enforcement and driver training.

Unfortunately, at the moment, it looks like a story that is not about to change as pickups proliferate and after the next late night party there is another accident waiting to happen.

Source: Vientiane Times

Monthly Newsletter