“Their lives don't matter to politicians”: The necropolitical ecology of Thailand's dangerous and unequal roads
Danny Marks, John Connell
Political Geography
School of Law and Government

The numbers of fatalities among poorer road users in Thailand are disproportionately high. The road system is poorly designed with no lanes for motorcycles which are mainly driven by poorer members of Thai society from rural areas. It is also poorly maintained and low paid police officers do not enforce regulations.

Thailand is consistently ranked as having the worst road safety record in Asia, and one of the worst globally. A primary factor is the materiality and design of the road system, built to increase mobility rather than improve safety, and lacking a hierarchical structure. Highways are poorly integrated into both rural areas and Thai cities, and ignore the needs of motorcycle drivers, who comprise most road users and victims. Traffic regulations are not enforced by poorly paid police officers, without adequate resources or ability to enforce traffic fines, and who engage in corrupt practices. This is compounded by inadequate driving education.

However, there is something else at work. Political elites have often focussed on road safety for some groups, such as car users, who are more politically powerful, while excluding worse-off groups, such as motorcyclists. This has made the later group more vulnerable to road accidents

Necropolitics describes a form of political power that functions by bringing about the social exclusion or actual deaths of individuals and populations through direct action, or in this case deadly neglect. Previously research has argued that the climate crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic are instances of necropolitics. It originated as a philosophical argument theorising how marginalised communities are more affected by these events because they are less close to dominant power.