Project Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMUC) joined efforts with partner organizations in solving problems with road safety in a tangible way by utilizing knowledge gained from research work as a driving mechanism for road safety innovation, with the ultimate goal of reducing the rate of accident-related mortality by 50% by year 2030, and down to no more than 12 in 100,000 persons within the year 2027
Road accidents are a major global issue. and is an important problem in Thailand. Road accidents in Thailand are becoming more and more severe and have a negative impact on the lives of Thai citizens in terms of safety, economy and society. Thailand has a high number of fatalities resulting from road accidents. In the period before the outbreak of COVID-19, when there was still a lot of traveling throughout the country, there were 22,491 deaths, or 31 people per 100,000 people, ranking at number one in Southeast Asia, and was ranked ninth in the world. From the statistics of road accident fatalities in 2017-2019, the average was at 20,480 cases per year, with an average of nearly 600 daily motorcycle accidents per day. There is also an increasing trend in fatalities resulting from high-speed accidents. The number of deaths during festivity seasons was 25% higher than during non-festival times. More importantly, the working-age population aged 15-19 years and 20-40 years, considered to be the main resource of the country, were among the most affected, where the number of injuries and deaths were quite high. However, with various improvements and with the COVID-19 outbreak resulting in reduced travel, the number of deaths has steadily declined, with the latest figure at 25 per 100,000 persons, but still above desired level at no more than 12 deaths per 100,000 persons.
Consequently, there has been a cooperation among 5 agencies, namely the Health Promotion Fund (ThaiHealth), the Road Safety Fund (RSF), Thailand Science, Research and Innovation (TSRI), National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT), and Program Management Unit for Competitiveness (PMUC) to drive research and innovation to reduce road accidents. Development efforts include, for example, promoting cooperation among relevant parties within the area, promoting a culture of road safety consciousness for motorcyclists, promoting vehicle safety standards, developing technology to build safe driving skills, developing innovative law enforcement technologies, supporting research to raise safety standards and promoting new road safety laws, and research to enhance travel safety and create a safe tourism environment. There was a ceremony for the signing of Memorandum of Understanding among the 5 aforementioned agencies at the 15th National Academic Seminar on Road Safety, “New Decade, New Way, Safe Driving First” on May 25, 2022, at Vayupak Convention Center, Centara Hotel by Centara Grand. Government Complex Hotel and Convention Center at Chaeng Watthana. General Prayut Chanocha, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, presided over the opening ceremony.
General Prayut Chanocha, Prime Minister, gave a keynote speech on the topic of “The role of the country’s leader” that “the government focuses on adopting the concept of a safe system and putting into real application to achieve concrete results by changing the perspective of the working people in the relevant departments and the social mechanism at all levels. He added that all parties must focus on building a safety system to promote safer environment, physically, socially, legally and in actual enforcement. And the government has a plan to push for continuous monitoring and evaluation while presenting the current situation and progress of operations to the cabinet every quarter, as well as presenting a summary of the results to the House, Senate and the general public once a year, in order to achieve efficient operation and policy management in creating road safety.”
Prof. Siriruek Songsiwilai, Ph.D., Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation said in a keynote speech on the topic of “Research policy for road safety” that “The Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (MHESI) has given policy directions to various departments in the ministry, especially the TSRI, NRCT and PMUC, to support this project to the best of their ability. Road safety was set as a key component in the country’s science, research and innovation development plan for the years 2023-2027. The ministry will allocate research budgets, including supporting research funding for developing policies, operation and management to make Thai society safe. Safety of life, property, and public welfare through research, technology and innovation.”
On this occasion, Assoc. Prof. Thongchai Suwannasit, Ph.D., Deputy Director of PMUC, as a representative of the signatories of the cooperative agreement, said that “PMUC is an agency under the Office of National Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation Policy Council (NXPO), which the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation has set up to focus specifically on enhancing the country’s competitiveness. In the past PMUC has granted research funding to help develop infrastructure in various fields throughout the country. Such projects include medical infrastructure, high value food production, creation of a certification system, and various digital platforms to drive the commercialization of output from research and innovation projects. Road safety is one of the country’s most important infrastructure issues, and requires cooperation from various sectors, including academic data, research knowledge base covering all dimensions including science, technology, engineering, architecture, medical methods as well as social and economic measures to drive efforts to promote road safety in a tangible way. PMUC is very pleased to cooperate with partner organizations. and is ready to support various operations to achieve road safety goals to improve the quality of life for Thai people, including the economy, society and tourism in the country, as well as to ensure sustainable development and increased competitiveness.”
Asst. Prof. Supawadee Bothiyarat, Ph.D., Senior Specialist, TSRI, and Chairperson of the Tourism and Creative Economy Program Sub-Committee, PMUC, stated that “In this collaboration, PMUC has played a role in promoting and providing knowledge and research results, and helping to develop the country’s research and innovation system in science, technology, social sciences, humanities, and interdisciplinary areas. The effort was instrumental in the preparation of policy proposals related to road safety, technology to support law enforcement, innovative alternatives for safe public transport, and the development of innovation platforms in the manufacturing and service sectors. To promote the commercialization of research results and innovations as well as increasing the country’s competitiveness in the manufacturing and service sectors by gathering knowledgeable network partners, strengthening safety culture among the private sector, local authorities, and communities, pushing all sectors to take part in efforts for road safety, leading to a reduction in road accident injuries and fatalities as per desired target.”
This cooperation in research and development of safety innovations will contribute to developing new knowledge as a way to create change, reducing preventable losses in accordance with international guidelines that emphasize safe living environment, sustainable and equitable transportation, and disseminating relevant knowledge to road safety workers so that they can take action to prevent and reduce road accidents. Cooperation in the management of research and development of road safety among these five parties is aimed at working together in an integrated manner in the following areas: independent research and development; knowledge building; and driving towards utilization under the Road Safety Program, which supports the implementation of the Road Safety Master Plan No. 5 in accordance with the national strategic direction to achieve the goal of improving the quality of life, economy, society and tourism. The ultimate goal is to achieve sustainable development and to solve challenging problems and adapt to the changing global environments.