Thai official says 91% of serious injuries during Songkran due to not wearing seat belts

The Songkran festival, which is celebrated annually in Thailand, is known for its festive water fights and partying. However, it has also gained a reputation for being one of the deadliest times on the roads due to increased traffic and road accidents.

According to the Secretary General of the Thai Public Health Ministry, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, there was an uptick in serious injuries related to road accidents during this year’s Songkran festival. Dr Opas said that 91% of the serious injuries were due to people not wearing seat belts.

Data collected from April 11 to 16 revealed that there were 17,775 injuries, an increase of 19.26% from the previous year. There were also 232 deaths, a decrease of 26.81% from the previous year. Among those injured, 3,814 people had to be hospitalised, an increase of 81.84%, The Pattaya News reported.

The three provinces with the highest number of fatalities were Nakhon Ratchasima with 12 fatalities, followed by Chiang Rai and Pathum Thani with nine and eight fatalities. The top three provinces with the highest number of injuries were Chiang Mai with 811 injuries, Nakhon Ratchasima with 782, and Khon Kaen with 665.

Dr Opas said the risk factor that contributed to serious injuries the most was people not wearing seat belts, which accounted for 91.95% of the overall injuries. Drunk driving and not wearing motorcycle helmets also played a part, contributing to 31.51% and 10.77% of injuries.

To prevent further accidents, Dr Opas urged citizens to be careful while driving, especially between April 16 and 17 (today and tomorrow) when traffic around the country would be flooded with people travelling back home after their Songkran trips. He also urged people to get enough rest, check their vehicles, comply with traffic laws, and plan their routes to minimise accidents.

While Songkran is a time for celebration, people need to take precautions and prioritise their safety, especially when travelling on the roads.

Apart from the Songkran festival, road safety is a massive issue in Thailand in general.

The ThaiRSC reported in January that as many as 939,713 road accidents were reported in Thailand last year, up 4.7% from 2021. Road accidents killed 14,737 people, and injured 924,799 last year, ThaiRSC said. The committee reported that 536 deaths and 7,885 injuries were among foreigners.

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.