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Songkran

Deputy PM wants rural road safety push for Songkran

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Rescue workers retrieve the victims from the wreckage of a 2018 Songkran road incident - Bangkok Post
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With Songkran and its infamous “7 dangerous days” rapidly approaching, the Interior Ministry has asked local authorities and administrations for effective measures to prevent road incidents. Last year, 386 people were killed on Thai roads during the deadly week .

Road incidents kill some 22,000 in Thailand every year, or about 65 deaths a day. But the Songkran festival’s “7 dangerous days” is a big part of the total.

Crashes also cause a high number of serious injuries, with losses amounting to about 10 million baht per case, Deputy Interior Minister Niphon Bunyamanee said yesterday.

“The high toll is largely caused by drunk driving and lack of safety precautions. Thailand has 500,000 kilometres of roads, but 400,000 are in rural areas. So I want more cooperation from local administrations in overseeing local roads, above all barring users who violate traffic laws. This could help cut the death toll significantly. Especially during festivals like Songkran when people celebrate by drinking.”

During Songkran last year the proportion of road accidents caused by drunk driving came in at 36.6%, followed by speeding at 28.3%. In 2018, when 418 died during Songkran, speeding was the primary cause (27.7%).

Across 2019’s “7 dangerous days,” nearly 80% of accidents involved motorcycles. At a little more than 2000 police checkpoints across the country, officers seized 7,282 vehicles and prosecuted a total of 210,883 people, largely for not wearing helmets (55,805) or driving without a license (48,183).

There are two periods each year when local media concentrate their attention on the number of road casualties: “Western” New Year, and Songkran, the Thai New Year. Both are prolonged holidays when the government makes sure everyone gets at least 5 days off, so that people can make family visits to their homes in rural areas.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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