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Nationwide Songkran holiday road toll rises




– Thailand news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Road toll exceeds last year’s figures
The Nation / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: The Songkran holiday period saw 364 deaths and 3,559 injuries from 3,373 accidents – higher than last year’s figures, the Road Safety Center said yesterday.

This year saw 42 more deaths, 334 more injuries and 381 more accidents.

On Wednesday alone, there were 458 accidents that claimed 58 lives and injured 489.

With drunk driving continuing to be the major cause of accidents, the Public Health Ministry yesterday admitted that alcohol-control measures during the holiday period had not been as successful as expected. The ministry blamed, in part, a lack of cooperation from business operators.

On behalf of the Road Safety Centre, which closed its doors yesterday, Deputy Interior Minister Suthee Makboon announced that drunk driving (39.31 per cent) and speeding (24.35 per cent) remained the two major contributors to most road accidents.

Motorcycles were involved in the majority of accidents (81.34 per cent), while 62.89 per cent of accidents took place on straight stretches of road.

Phitsanulok reported the highest number of accidents (141), while Surin had the highest number casualties (16 deaths and 152 injuries).

The five provinces that did not report any deaths were Phuket, Mae Hong Son, Yala, Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon.

The centre’s work would be used in an attempt to improve holiday road safety, Suthee said.

The deputy minister said that the rise in road accidents this year was due to the higher number of cars and tourists, while summer storms posed more risks to motorists, especially motorcyclists.

Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin praised those who manned the 206 community checkpoints in 10 provinces for helping boost road safety, especially checkpoints in Surin’s Prasat district where former street-racing youths manned them 24 hours a day and brought many drunk motorists home safely.

The ministry planned to expand the checkpoints to all villages for the 2016 New Year holiday, he added.

Disease Control Department chief Sopon Mekthon reported that the ministry’s alcohol-control measures over the past two week had resulted in 602 arrests.

Most of those arrested (208) were for promoting alcohol products, while 152 were related to drinking alcohol in prohibited areas, 79 to the sale of alcohol during a prohibited time and 62 to the sale of alcohol without a licence.

Sopon said officials would continue this operation for seven days after Songkran as some areas still hosted celebrations.

He said people drank more during festivals so officials had to be stricter and business operators should cooperate more with them by being aware of the social security issues linked to drinking.

Meanwhile, national police deputy chief General Pongsapat Pongcharoen said the project in which Songkran holidaymakers left their homes under police care covered 4,634 homes – 206 more than last Songkran and 959 more than the 2014 New Year period.

Meanwhile, 400-strong city operation to clean Silom area during the festival resulted in 30 tonnes of garbage being collected on average per day compared to 100 tonnes per day last year.

Meanwhile, the number of people injured in fights and treated at the Silom first-aid centre peaked at 12 on Monday compared to between 30-40 injuries per day last year.

— Phuket Gazette Editors


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