April alcohol sales set to double, spiking road accidents feared

Picture courtesy of CNN

The CEO of Carabao Group, Sathien Sathientham, predicts that April’s alcohol sales are set to double, except for December. This increase is anticipated due to the prolonged Songkran festival and the extension of bar and pub opening hours in several areas, including Bangkok and Phuket.

Nuttapong Boontob, a board member and assistant secretary of the ThaiRoads Foundation, expressed concerns about a potential rise in road accidents as life returns to normal post-pandemic. He highlighted that road accidents tend to surge during the new year and Songkran festivals.

During the notorious “seven dangerous days” of Songkran, from April 11-17, authorities will be closely monitoring road accidents. In the same period in 2023, the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation reported 2,203 road accidents, resulting in 264 deaths and 2,208 injuries. This was a decrease of 38% from 2019, but a 15% rise from 2020.

The ThaiRoads Foundation identified speeding (38%), drink-driving (24%), and reckless driving (18%) as the main causes of these accidents. However, pre-pandemic data from 2019 showed drink-driving as the primary cause of road accidents (37%), followed by speeding (28%).

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Boontob predicts that drink-driving-related accidents will increase during this year’s Songkran festival due to the government’s plans to extend the festival to stimulate tourism and the economy. He added that last December’s extension of pub and bar opening hours to 4am in select areas could also contribute to this increase.

While acknowledging the government’s economic initiatives, Boontob emphasised the economic losses due to road accidents, which he described as “a loss to the economy.” A 2021 study by the Thailand Development Research Institute estimated that road accidents caused an economic loss of over 642 billion baht in 2019, with 19,904 fatalities.

Boontob pointed out the lack of awareness among Thais about alcohol’s effects, particularly impaired decision-making while driving. He called for stricter law enforcement and increased security checkpoints during the festival to prevent accidents.

Boontob stressed that road safety is a shared responsibility, calling on the government, civil society, and private sector to play their part in reducing deaths and injuries, reported Bangkok Post.

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Alex Morgan

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