As we head into what has become known in Thailand as the “Seven Days of Danger” – the holiday period from December 24 to January 4 that always sees an increase in road deaths – a new report initiative is shedding light on an increase in motorbike accidents in Phuket.
The Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation has begun releasing a report called the Summary of Operations of Phuket Tourist Assistance Centre. While its goal is to report on various emergency situations in the province, the majority of items in the report are regarding motorbike accidents.
This year, Phuket has reported 103 fatalities on the roads, a 45% rise since last year. It should be noted though that the number of people on the roads was greatly reduced during the Covid-19 pandemic. But with the return of tourism, road accidents began steadily increasing as well. A total of 16,689 people were hospitalized so far this year, up about 3,500 from last year according to the Phuket News. The island surpassed the total number of deaths in 2021 this year by mid-September.
The new daily report highlights how often motorbike accidents occur, and how frequently the drivers are foreign expats or tourists. According to the Thailand Road Safety Committee, motorbikes are involved in over 75% of road accidents and deaths in Phuket. Accidents are so pervasive that calls went out for blood donations last week for foreigners with the Rh-negative blood type to give transfusions to accident victims.
This past week, the PPAO report on Friday mentioned two Thais and two foreigners in accidents on December 22, while the day before another five Thais and two foreigners had motorbike crashes. A few of the accidents involved on-the-scene first aid, but most required a trip to the hospital.
Phuket has also seen a higher-than-normal percentage of children and teenagers involved in road accidents. About 45% of all deaths and hospitalisations on the road were people under the age of 14.
Now, Thailand is in a pre-intensive control period before the infamous Seven Days of Danger, and designated the next week as another intensive control time. During these times, they aim to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities by limiting traffic risk factors like public transportation and road work, combating motorcyclists driving without helmets and drunk drivers, and increasing the availability and efficiency of emergency medical services.
PM Prayut Chan-o-cha vowed earlier this year to lower road deaths to 12 per 100,000 people over the next five years and, using a model inspired by Sweden, completely eliminate fatalities on the streets of Thailand by 2050.
“Of course, I know the problem and how to solve it. But it won’t work 100% because of a lack of public cooperation. I ordered that the law must be strictly enforced against traffic offenders. But I would have liked to seek people’s cooperation first.”