Road Safety in Thailand. A
Did you know that before the Xmas-New Year holidays
there was a concerted drive to ensure the safety of vehicles driven on
our roads? Many of the auto and motorcycle manufacturers got behind
the government sponsored project to give free safety checks and
discounted parts to result in fewer un-roadworthy vehicles on our
roads. This was being touted as a great way to lower the holiday road
toll. However, any effect it would have had would be very minimal, at
best! Read on.
What was glossed over were the statistics produced
by the RSA (Road Safety Audit) in Thailand. The auditing showed that
when looking at the cause of accidents, 83% were caused by reckless
driving, 16% were classified as ďotherĒ and 1% of the accidents
were caused by vehicle condition. In other words, all that huffing and
puffing was looking at 1% of the accidents and ignoring the other 99%.
Taking that further, last year during Songkranís
national road toll disgrace, 564 people were killed. Put another way,
if the roadworthy drive netted 100% of the un-roadworthy cars, you
have saved the lives of 5 people. The other 559 will still end up at
the pearly gates. Closing the stable doors long after not the horse,
but the whole herd has bolted!
Other details from the RSA show that 80% of
fatalities are male, so it is not difficult to put together the
profile of your average fatality statistic. Male, most likely alcohol
or drugs impaired, driving or riding recklessly. If that profile
isnít you, itís the profile of the person whoís going to hit
So what can you do to avoid becoming part of this
yearís road toll? Quite frankly, forgetting the whole alcohol thing
for the time being, by wearing a quality crash helmet or wearing a
seat belt, your chances of survival are not just doubled, they are
increased multiple-fold. Do you want to be around after Songkran? Then
itís helmet or belt. Do you want your
wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend to be around too? Then itís ditto
for them as well.
Failings without warnings (or an ode
to Lucas, the Prince of Darkness)
There are three items in your car that are prone to
failure without warning. The reason is electrical, and I must admit I
have always found car electrics a black art. I was reminded of this
the other day when I pulled up at the local shop, got back in the car
turned the key and absolutely nothing! Suspecting the battery, I got
out, removed a shoe, and proceeded to belt hell out of the battery
terminals. This was not in frustration and rage, but sometimes you can
have (battery) terminal problems that are fixed with a good thump. No
such luck in this case, and after a jumper lead start, it was high
tail to the battery shop who told me that there was an internal short
in the battery and it was scrap and buy a new one, only 950 baht and
thank you, 50 baht change.
The second great piece of equipment waiting to fail
is the ignition coil. I remember driving my race car to the grid at
one meeting and turning off the engine while we waited for the parade
lap to commence. We never got on the parade, it just refused to fire
when it was our time to move out. Again an internal fault, and again
just throw it away! And again, extreme frustration.
The third piece of electrical equipment that will
fail with no warning is the fuel pump. These have always failed at the
worst possible times, especially the ones on the early Miniís that
lived under the boot floor and were constantly wet. In the good old
days when I drove an MGTC with the sides off the bonnet and leather
straps over the top, I used to carry a short iron bar which was used
for beating the hell out of the fuel pump to get it to start ticking
again every time after it stopped. This could be done without getting
out of the driverís seat!
Last week I mentioned there is a very famous hill climb in
America, known as Pikeís Peak. The course to the top is 12.4 miles long and
the first event was held in August 1916, celebrating the new road built by
Spencer Penrose, who donated a 60 pound weight silver trophy, which is still the
top award today. The mountain got its name from Lieutenant Zebulon Pike who was
commissioned by President Jefferson to survey the mountain in 1806. I asked what
did Zeb say when he got to the top? This was a bit of a trick question, because
Zeb never got to the top! He sent in a report to say that it was impossible! He
would be revolving in his grave if he knew about Monster Tajima!
So to this week. We are all used to being offered multi disk
CD players in cars these days, but quite some time ago record players were
offered as factory options. In fact it was 1956. What I want to know, is what
car company offered this?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
I must also make mention of some of the contestants in the Autotrivia Quiz.
There is a solid nucleus of people who are pitting their brains (and web
browsers) against each other, and MacAlan Thompson, out in the mulga of northern
Thailand is a regular winner, while Peter Smith and Mo Bertrand in Pattaya are
others to claim the prize. Thank you guys, and all the other respondents from
around the world.
Australian Grand Prix this weekend to kick off
the new season
The Australian GP will be held at Albert Park in Melbourne
this weekend. This is where the answers will come to the questions as to whether
the new qualifying format is a success and just how good are the new drivers on
Note that the Qualifying sessions will start at 2 p.m.
Saturday local times this year, not at 1 p.m. Melbourne is 4 hours in front of
Thailand (they are on Daylight Saving Time till the end of March), so the
sessions will start here at 10 a.m. and you would be well advised to get
yourself in front of the TV nice and early. The actual GPís will also start at
2 p.m. local time on the Sundays, so for us, the Aussie GP will also be 10 a.m.
The following Grand Prix is ďourĒ one - the Malaysian GP at Sepang
outside Kuala Lumpur in two weeks time (23rd March). If you have never seen a GP
in the flesh, this is your opportunity, otherwise join me in front of the TV. KL
is one hour in front of us, so the green light should be at 1 p.m. our time -
but I believe they will start the GP at 3 p.m. local time Malaysia instead of
the usual 2 p.m., so that could be 2 p.m. here. Confused? Donít worry, so am
I. Be like me and settle in front of the big screen at noon, just in case of any
Whatís on at the Bira Circuit and
I have received many requests for what is happening
on the local scene, and parallel with the improvements in the auto
economy in this country, the motor racing scene is also moving. What
is happening is that there are now several distinctly different groups
climbing on the motor sport bandwagon, and it will be interesting to
see if all this new interest will make the wagonís wheels fall off!
Here are the promoting groups and the dates given
to me for their race meetings. Note, dates have been subject to change
in the past and I foresee the same problems this year! Write the dates
on your calendar in pencil! For what it is worth, here we go.
Thailand Grand Touring Car group (AIM Racing and
covers the very professional ďConceptĒ series, a proposed pick-up
series and possibly another one-make series) May 2-4, June 13-15, July
25-27, September 5-7, October 24-26, December 5-7.
Thailand Touring Car group (touring cars, proposed
pick-ups, motorcycles) June 21-22, August 2-3, September 27-28,
November 8-9, December 27-28.
Thailand Super Car group (touring cars and
pick-ups) May 16-18, July 18-20, August 29-31, October 3-5, November
Asian Festival of Speed group (touring cars,
pick-ups, Formula BMW, Asian F3, Carrera Cup) July 18-20.
Taki Racing Club (Formula Renault) June 28-29,
August 16-17, September 20-21, October 18-19, November 1-2, November
22-23, December 20-21.
Porsche Cup Challenge (Porsche GT3) April 27-30.
JAM Drag Racing, March 22, April 26, May 31, June
21, August 23, September 27, October 18, November 22, December 27.
Thailand Karting Championship, June 21-22.
Biland Challenge (250 cc Superkarts) April 13, May
11, Jun 8, July 20, August 3, September 21.
One does not need to be Einstein to see that some of these dates
clash already. The drag racers are currently scheduled to run on the
same day as one of the Taki Formula Renault rounds and a Thailand
Touring Car round. There are months with (apparently) something on at
Bira every weekend. Myself I cannot see this happening, and I
certainly canít see that there will be hordes trekking to Bira every
weekend. However, it is going to be interesting! The Thailand Grand
Touring Car group (AIM Racing) have the runs on the board with some
very professionally run meetings last year. We will just have to see
what happens with the others!