Songkran proves deadly on Chonburi roads

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Songkran traffic fatalities soared in Chonburi province, with at least 10 people killed and 19 injured during the “seven dangerous days” of the Thai New Year holiday.

Chonburi, which has seen two or fewer road deaths a year for the past five years, suffered only 19 accidents during the April 9-15 period, but they were deadly.

Phanat Nikhom and Ban Bung each saw three fatalities from road wrecks, with seven and three accidents, respectively. Two people were killed in two accidents in Muang Chonburi. The other fatality was recorded in Bo Thong, which had just the one accident.

The 7 days of danger in Pattaya resulted in 97 total accidents, 123 injured and 1 dead. The majority of accidents involved motorbike collisions while people were drinking and driving.

The increase in deaths matches that of Thailand as a whole, which saw increases in Songkran accidents, fatalities and injuries, compared with last year.

Overall, 364 people were killed, up 42 from 2014; 3,559 hurt, up from 3,225 last year; and there were 3,373 accidents, up from 2,992 the previous Songkran. National transport officials claimed the increases were a result in a large increase in the number of domestic travelers across the country.

Our own Dr. Iain Corness points out that these casualty figures tabulate only victims who die on the spot, not those who succumb to injuries later. So the death toll could well be higher over time.

Chanchai Uthomsirikul, head of the Chonburi’s Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, said the province had established a Joint Operations Center to Prevent and Reduce Road Accidents during Songkran from April 9-15, setting up 27 checkpoints in 11 districts. Approximately 1,000 officers were stationed at the checkpoints along with volunteers from six other organizations.

The checkpoints stopped 35,923 motorbikes, 16,853 pickup trucks, 13,146 small vehicles/taxis, 5,811 shuttle buses, 2,593 four-wheeled public transport vehicles, 1,884 six-wheeled public vehicles and 780 other vehicles.

In those stops, 35,930 people were cited or arrested, with 27 percent fined for not wearing helmets, 26.5 percent for not possessing a driver’s license, 3 percent arrested for drunk driving, 6 percent cited for speeding, and 4 percent for using mobile devices while driving.

Other citations and arrests were made for reckless driving, seatbelt non-use, running red lights, driving the wrong way, and overtaking other cars.

Officials also vigilantly checked gas stations, convenience stores, mini-marts, rest stops and retail stores for illegal alcohol sales. Of the 1,864 outlets checked, 29 were found violating the law and were either fined or warned.