Alcohol ad ban, public-service probation terms planned to cut Chonburi Songkran road carnage

Friday, 11 April 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 15 By  Jetsada Homklin

Chonburi has outlawed the promotion of alcohol, beer or cigarettes at Songkran festival sites as the province bolsters efforts to reduce Thai New Year road carnage totals.

Gov. Khomsan Ekachai presided over an April 4 meeting with the Chonburi Accident Prevention and Reduction Center, urging all government agencies to assign workers to prepare campaigns to prevent and reduce accidents.

Police set up traffic check-points before Songkran in front of the Royal Garden Plaza.Police set up traffic check-points before Songkran in front of the Royal Garden Plaza.

Only 15 accidents - resulting in one death and 19 injuries - officially were reported in Chonburi during the 2013 Songkran. But each year brings hundreds of deaths across the kingdom as drunken revelers drive motorbikes and throw water at moving vehicles to celebrate Songkran. The government takes additional steps each year, such as banning alcohol sales at gas stations, but the death toll still remains embarrassingly high.

This year, Chonburi wants to promote a cleaner, safer holiday by preventing promotion or advertising of alcohol, beer or cigarettes in officially designated water-throwing zones and festivals. Legal action was promised against those breaking the ban.

In addition, Khomsan said, government agencies must inform employees to maintain discipline and adhere to traffic rules to set examples for the public.

In Pattaya, traffic Maj. Col. Jetsadawti Inthrapraphan said the city will run a campaign to enforce the wearing of helmets and avoidance of alcohol use while driving.

As was the case last year, however, fines and arrests will be curtailed, focusing more on education. Instead of jailing drunk drivers and other law breakers, police will impose probation terms coupled with community service. The reasoning behind the lowering of penalties is to decrease fear of authorities among the public, police said.

Drunk drives will be placed on probation for up to two years, performing up to 48 hours of public service and require check-ins with probation officers up to four times. Those caught by police will have to work in such places as the Poh Teck Tung Foundation, which assists victims of drunk drivers at Chulalongkorn Hospital and Police Hospital.

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