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Rachel Cooper is campaigning for better road safety in Thailand after the death of  her son Felix in a bus crash north of Phuket

British Mother Aims for Better Road Safety

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
PHUKET: Rachel Cooper will be meeting British embassy officials today and joining a street protest in Bangkok as she continues her crusade to improve road safety in Thailand.

She's a mother on a mission, prepared to return to Thailand time and again if necessary to achieve justice and an end to needless tragedies.

Ms Cooper's 19-year-old son, Felix, was killed in a bus crash north of Phuket in 2010, largely because the vehicle had bald tyres and Felix was thrown from his seat on impact.

Since then, Ms Cooper has been keen to see action taken against the driver and the bus company, and campaigning for changes to make sure other parents are not left to grieve in future.

British Foreign Office and embassy officials have already been told that she and other parents want road safety to be a higher priority in travel warnings.

''What's odd is that embassy travel advisories highlight war zones where people seldom travel and treat the important information about road safety conditions in Thailand, where many more people are killed, as somehow less significant,'' she said.

Ms Cooper says that after undertaking research and talking to authorities in Britain and in Thailand, she believes the road toll for Thailand is much higher than official figures reveal. She also has been told that the chances of a visitor being killed on Thailand's roads are 2.5 times greater than for a resident.

Supporting Ms Cooper in her mission have been a number of Thai officials and academics who agree with her and argue that Thailand isn't doing enough to make its roads safe.

In Ranong this week for the court appearance of the bus driver, Ms Cooper met with Colonel Wanchai Eakpornpit, the man behind Phuket's ''100% helmet'' campaign, who was transferred north after being acclaimed as Phuketwan's Phuket Person of the Year for 2010.

Colonel Wanchai says he hopes Thailand goes ahead with plans to introduce legislation this year that would make seat belts compulsory on buses.

The driver of the bus involved in the crash in which Felix Cooper was killed fled the scene and was not arrested until March.

Earlier this week, Rachel Cooper saw him brought into Ranong Provincial Court in shackles.

On a previous visit to Thailand, she'd found the bus still on its side at the crash scene, and noted the bald tyres.

''The bus would not have been allowed on the road in most other places,'' she said.

Ms Cooper had hoped to be able to say something in court, but this week the bus driver's trial was postponed until June.

Meanwhile, Ms Cooper and her son Louie, 25, will be pursuing answers in her campaign for better road safety in Thailand. Today they are joining the Long Slow Walk in Bangkok on behalf of pedestrian safety.

Phuketwan interviewed Ms Cooper in Ranong at length and will publish an update on her campaign tomorrow.

Comments

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I admire this women for carrying on the fight in the hope it may save other tourists from the pain she has had to endure. And she is totally right - if the embassy and governments started putting travel advisories on their respective websites about Road Safety etc, I think the situation would be addressed because we all know anything that will affect tourism and its image in Thailand will be noticed by the Government of Thailand.

Posted by Ciaran on May 1, 2013 11:22

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This is such a massive problem, funding for Police to properly check vehicles, then to enforce action if vehicles are not roadworthy. One law that can be quickly implemented is mandatory prison for people that run away from accidents (inc motorbikes) when someone is injured and also for driving a vehicle that has obvious problems, like it is alleged bald tyres.

Posted by Lost In Translation on May 1, 2013 18:38

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Thumbs up for you Rachel!

Posted by Harald on May 1, 2013 21:42

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It makes me wonder why was the bus driver, only arrested this last month? When Felix died in 2010.This has put Rachel through so much pain and stress.Rachel has a huge fight on her hands, and I hope that the Thai government will start listening. Monica(MoM)

Posted by Monica on May 2, 2013 05:21

Editor Comment:

As the article says, the driver fled the crash scene. He was not apprehended until March.

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''The bus would not have been allowed on the road in most other places,'' she said.... But this is Thailand, the country where everything is possible. I would say, good luck to you. You will need it

Posted by Charles on May 2, 2013 09:06

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Highly commendable, thumbs up to you Rachel, if nobody try's then nothing will happen. I hope you are a patient person and have cash you don't need so you can oil the machinery, you will need it.

Posted by Simon on May 2, 2013 15:20

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A thousand thank you's. Thank you, Thank you. I am so sorry for tourists here, they are so mislead, it's really a miracle more are not killed. It's disgusting the traffic fatalities are not front and center on every TLAnd travel advisory. Citizen safety is no longer even a consideration ? Makes me wonder what the priorities are of Embassy staff. Oh, it's Thailand...

Posted by E Blair on May 2, 2013 20:37


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