Because this was traffic deaths during the Songkran holiday period which began as the rioting was winding down. Traffic deaths are not as important to us as rioting or terrorist deaths. (I imagine to the families they are, but not to the media or to politicians.)
There are about 40,000 annual traffic deaths in the US. That's about 340,000 people killed in the United States since 9/11. The number of people killed by terrorist attack inside the US has been about 3000 since 9/11. (A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report says 2008 was the lowest number - 37,313 - since 1961 due to more seatbelt use and less driving because of high gas prices.)
Finding figures on how much we've spent on the war on terror - including Iraq and Afganistan - is much harder on Google than one would expect, but the numbers in this March 2006 article cover the range pretty much:
within another three years, total direct and indirect costs to U.S. taxpayers will likely by more than $400 billion, and one estimate puts the total economic impact at up to $2 trillion.
So, we got lots of news about Thai red shirt demonstrators in the streets, but the reports I've read say that only two people died. But right after the demonstrations were over and Songkran festivities began, 220 people have died already in Thailand. And who is covering that?
Tourists left Bangkok because of riots. But being on the roads of Thailand is much more dangerous. Especially on a motorcycle. What we know about the world - especially places and events we don't see with our own eyes - is largely shaped by the media and what stories they choose to report and choose not to. And how they report the stories and how much time they spend on them. So the tourists came to Thailand even though traffic collisions are high because they don't pay much attention to that (until they get there.) But the visions of rioters in the street looked far more dangerous. But actually weren't.
We pay much less attention to traffic deaths than to riot or terrorist deaths. If saving people's lives were the important factor, would we have spent huge amounts of money to send soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan while spending a tiny fraction of that to prevent traffic deaths? Don't forget 340,000 in traffic deaths v. 3000 in terrorist attack in the US since 9/11. But we didn't spend 100 times as much to prevent traffic deaths. What if we did? or just 100 times more than we spend now to prevent traffic deaths?
Here's more on the Thai story from the Nation via ThaiVisa
BANGKOK: -- Road casualties climbed to 220 deaths and 2,658 people injured as 2,658 accidents were recorded nationwide in the first four of the "seven most dangerous days" of the Songkran festival.
Chiang Rai had the most accidents at 102 followed by Nakhon Si Thammarat at 94, Paichit Varachit, deputy permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said yesterday.
Monday alone saw 863 traffic accidents with 81 deaths and 940 injuries.
Driving under the influence of alcohol was the major cause of accidents followed by speeding.
Most mishaps involved motorcycles driven from 4pm-8pm.
The rest is at the link above.
You may or may not have noticed that I have not used the term "traffic accidents" in this post. My son has convinced me that most so called traffic collisions are preventable.
Also, doing this post brought to my attention the difficulty in getting budget estimates for traffic death prevention. Obviously there are bits of money in different federal appropriations and then each state has its own appropriations on this. But you'd think there were people specializing in this topic who would have reasonable estimates. Maybe they just don't post them on the web. Or their sites come up low on Google.