Foreign Office unveils road safety scheme

The Foreign Office has launched a new road safety campaign aimed at targeting British nationals who drive outside of the UK.

The campaign has been developed amid concerns of an increasing amount of road traffic accidents affecting British tourists and expats in Australia, Spain and Thailand.

Driving laws and road conditions can vary widely from country to country, with most nations experiencing significantly higher volumes of road traffic casualties and fatalities than in Britain.

Thailand has gained worldwide notoriety for its exorbitant rate of road traffic accidents in recent years, with 68,582 road traffic incidents resulting in 9,205 fatalities in 2011 alone.

More than 50,000 Britons are currently based in the South Asian country, which also attracts over 870,000 British holidaymakers every year, but road traffic fatalities are the second most common cause of death among British expats in Thailand - after natural causes.

Many British nationals drive used cars to trek around largely untouched areas of northern Thailand, with destinations such as Chaing Mai and Chaing Rai housing large expat communities and proving popular with explorers.

The Foreign Office in Thailand said motorbikes or scooters account for the majority of road traffic accidents, while larger vehicles are generally involved in the more serious collisions. Dozens of British nationals have been injured in accidents while travelling on overnight coaches in the last 12 months as well.

Mark Kent, Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, said: "British nationals using the roads in Thailand should bear in mind that road laws and driving customs here are different from those in the UK and road conditions, driving standards and road traffic regulations can vary.

"Road traffic accidents can have a profound effect on both those individuals involved and their families. Accidents do occur and not all tragedies are avoidable, but the outcome could be very different with many lives being saved and critical injuries reduced if people adopted the same safety precautions abroad that they would naturally take at home."

Despite the campaign highlighting the perils of driving in Thailand, British motorists have been issued with a range of advice to bear in mind if going for a spin on the continent this Easter as well.

Motorists in France are obligated to carry a breathalyser in their vehicle, while those trekking around Germany could be pulled over if their vehicle does not sport winter tyres at certain times of the year.

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