Public Health Ministry regions across the country yesterday were declared compulsory helmet-wearing zones to promote safety and reduce fatalities caused by motorcycle accidents, said Deputy Minister Pannasiri Kullanartsiri.
The move is aimed at promoting the Decade of Action for Road Safety - from 2011 to 2020 - after reports indicated 11,000 people were killed in road accidents last year.
About 6,000 of these fatalities were motorcycle riders not wearing helmets to protect themselves from brain injuries.
Pannasiri said the ministry had set a 50-per-cent target to reduce the injury and fatality rate from road accidents by 2020. Encouraging motorcycle riders and passengers to wear helmets was the most important action to reduce this casualty rate.
All government office areas nationwide should be designated as compulsory helmet-wearing zones, he said. According to Public Health Ministry records in 2009, 11,751 people - or about 30 per day - were killed in road accidents. About 6,000 of these cases were motorcyclists.
The record also showed that more than 700,000 people were taken to hospital with motorcycle injuries, leaving the government with a Bt2-billion annual medical bill for their care.
Half this expenditure went towards patients suffering from head injuries.