As a result of the joint effort among related agencies to prevent and reduce road accidents during this year’s Songkran Festival, the numbers of accidents and casualties have successfully been lowered than last year. However, drunk driving and riding motorcycles without helmets remain prevalent.
In compliance with the Government’s policy designating the year 2011 to 2020 as a decade of road safety and the year 2011 for the promotion of helmet wearing among motorcyclists, many relevant organizations joined forces during the Songkran Festival this year to put a lid on the number of road accidents, which usually soars during long holidays and brings massive counts of casualties.
To ensure safety for the huge crowds of holidaymakers heading to their home provinces and tourist destinations across the country, the Highway Police dispatched several thousands of officers to monitor and facilitate the traffic while thousands other volunteers were deployed to help raise people’s awareness of traffic laws and safety precautions.
As part of the road accident prevention plan, the Ministry of Public Health also set up service centers and resting spots along major highways nationwide in order to ensure that all drivers were in conditions safe to be behind the wheel. Medical workers were on standby at the centers while refreshments and traditional massage were available free of charge.
After the seven dangerous days of Songkran from 11-17 April, the Road Accident Prevention and Reduction Center of the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has issued a summary on the numbers of accidents and casualties. There were totally 3,215 accidents, which is an 8.56 percent decrease from 2010. The southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat had the most accidents, followed by Nakhon Sawan in the lower North.
The death toll settled at 271, lower than last year by 90. Highest counts of fatalities were reported in Ayutthaya, Nakhon Sawan and Bangkok, respectively. A total of 3,476 people were also injured, 326 people less than last year. The province with the most injuries was Nakhon Si Thammarat, followed by Nakhon Sawan and Chiang Rai.
As for the most common causes of accidents, driving under the influence of alcohol topped the list at 38.76 percent. The failure to wear safety helmets contributed to 32.59 percent of casualties among motorbike riders while up to 81.12 percent of road accidents involved motorcycles. The majority of accidents, or 57.73 percent, occurred on long, straight roads and another 35.18 percent occurred on local roads within communities. Most of the dead and the wounded, or 53.77 percent, were in the working age of between 20 and 49 while youth under 20 years old accounted for 28.08 percent.
In response to the statistics, Interior Minister Chavarat Charnvirakul, in his capacity as the Director of the Road Safety Center, pointed out that even though the authorities’ accident prevention plan this year could effectively rein in the extent of losses, compared to last year, drunk driving remained a major root of accidents and the overall accident rate in the nation was still considered high.
Therefore, the Minister has instructed all local and provincial administrative organizations to strictly impose control on sales of alcoholic beverages in their areas and to urgently raise the public awareness of road safety, particularly among youth, in order to safeguard commuters against danger on the road in a sustainable manner.