Sukhumvit traffic suffers holiday hangover

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It began with a trickle, became a flood and then the traffic on Sukhumvit Road basically stopped as gridlock welcomed holiday travelers back home.

Pattaya’s slow-moving streets returned largely to normal by Jan. 3, even as Sukhumvit and highways leading to Sattahip and Bang Saray bogged down with cars and buses taking people off for the past week back to real life.

“The roads are always busy every year on the evenings of Dec. 26 and Dec. 30. Those two days are the busiest days of the year and is when the traffic police will have to carefully stand by and direct the traffic to prevent jams and accidents,” said Highway Police commander, Pol. Maj. Gen Somchai Kaosamran.

Sukhumvit Highway in Pattaya is often at a standstill as holidaymakers return home after the holiday.Sukhumvit Highway in Pattaya is often at a standstill as holidaymakers return home after the holiday.

Bangkok residents, factory workers and civil servants around the country had Dec. 29-Jan. 2 as paid legal holidays this year and the capital emptied as people flooded to Pattaya, Hua Hin and northern cities for nine or more days. But they all had to come back to work by Jan. 5 and that’s when things got messy.

The Highway Department recommends that, during holiday peak times, people download its free app to check congestion on various routes. Travelers can also watch the video on YouTube called, “Highway Department’s Recommended Routes,” collect maps from the closest Highway Department or add “Highway1193” to the Line mobile-messaging app to ask for directions.

As for 2015, the Highway Department has laid plans for drivers to avoid traffic before and after holidays, and also recommendations for travelers to prepare before hitting the roads.

The Highway Department has also enhanced the traffic rules and is strictly prosecuting people who are not following the laws to prevent traffic jams and accidents, which include breath analysis for alcohol, wearing helmets, wearing seatbelts, speed checks, and wrong-way drivers.

“Most this year’s road accidents were caused by drinking and driving and people who are shattered from not getting enough sleep,” Somchai said. “There are more than 196 rest points all over the country that provide resting areas, rooms, tea and coffee. Please make sure that you always get a full rest before continuing your journey.”