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MAIL OPINION  By Shana Kongmun


Courtesy on the roads

One of the many complaints of pedestrians and motorists alike is the lack of courtesy towards others on the roads. Whether it is pedestrians trying to cross the road by dashing between cars or dashing across the crosswalks when the have a green walk light, hoping that drivers will stop long enough to let them pass.

Then there are the cars that pull out without looking, the drivers that are too busy talking on their phones to watch the road, the songthaews that stop without looking, the list is, in fact rather endless.

Motorbikes are not immune to this lack of courtesy often cutting people off, dashing through red lights and making it difficult for pedestrians to cross the road.

There are driving exams that people must pass in order to obtain a driver’s license. However, there are times when one would never guess that. In general, given the growing number of vehicles in Chiang Mai, the traffic still manages to flow fairly well but what is lacking is a sense of courtesy towards others on the roads.

A good Thai friend says “Thai people can learn, and can do these things, but we lack discipline.” I don’t think anyone can argue with this assessment although for those of us who have chosen Thailand as our home, one of the charms as well as one of the difficulties is that lack of discipline. From the drivers on the road who fail to heed the rules and each other to the service personnel who don’t deliver, don’t show up or don’t do the job correctly the first time.

Of course, these problems are not unique to Thailand and in fact, can occur anywhere. But, we don’t live anywhere, we live here and so it is those everyday problems we face here that we must face. I don’t profess to know any short term solutions to any issues, except of course better police enforcement of traffic laws, not just helmet and license checks would certainly go far in improving things in the short term.

Long term, of course, the key is in education. The children learn the behaviors they take into adulthood, is it possible to teach courtesy and consideration, even for those you don’t know? To teach punctuality and how do a job right? I think it is, but it has to come from teachers, parents and society as a whole.

The more people who teach by good example rather than simply complain about how things around them need changing are just that many more who can make an effect, no matter how small, on those around them.

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Courtesy on the roads