Songkran celebrations turn sour: Over 100 lives lost, 1,000 injured in road accidents

People enjoy splashing water in Muang district of Phitsanulok yesterday. Picture courtesy of Chinnawat Singha

According to the Director General of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, Boontham Lertsukheekasem, 114 fatalities and 1,064 injuries were recorded due to road accidents nationwide during the Songkran holiday. Between Tuesday and Thursday, there were 1,055 traffic incidents leading to these casualties a report today revealed.

Chiang Mai, a province in the north, experienced the most accidents with 38 reported incidents. Bangkok saw the highest fatality rate with nine deaths. Chiang Mai, along with the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, had the highest count of injured individuals, with 40 each, according to Boontham.

Yesterday, 437 traffic accidents took place, causing 49 deaths and 448 injuries.

The primary cause for these accidents was speeding, which accounted for 37% of all traffic incidents. Driving under the influence followed closely behind, resulting in 29% of the accidents. A staggering 79% of these accidents involved motorcycles, Boontham highlighted.

The Songkran Festival, also known as the Thai New Year, is a time when millions of Thais travel to visit family members, leading to significantly increased road usage during this period. Unfortunately, this often translates to a higher number of road accidents, as the statistics show.

The Thai government has attempted to reduce the number of road accidents by increasing law enforcement presence, deploying more checkpoints, and intensifying campaigns against drink-driving. However, despite these efforts, such incidents remain a prevalent problem during the holiday period.

While some progress has been made in recent years to address the issue of road safety in Thailand, more work needs to be done to mitigate the devastating consequences of these accidents. Public awareness campaigns, stricter law enforcement, and increased collaboration between the government and the public to work towards a safer road environment are crucial in addressing this pressing issue.

As we reflect on the number of lives lost and those affected by the accidents during the Songkran holiday, it serves as a reminder of the importance of responsible road behaviour and the impact our choices can have on those around us. Observing speed limits, refraining from driving under the influence, and taking all necessary precautions while on the road are fundamental steps that drivers must take to prevent future tragedies like these.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.