Drive to reduce Songkran carnage
BANGKOK, 26 March 2012: The Ministry of Transport is promising free car inspection until 12 April in an attempt to cut the horrific accident rate that piles up during the annual Songkran festival.
More people die on Thailand’s road during the four-day holiday than during a comparable time-frame in war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Car drivers can expect to encounter police checkpoints and recently introduced speed cameras as officials tackle dangerous driving mainly caused through excessive consumption of alcohol by both drivers and passengers.
“To accomplish this we have to embark on campaigns at every level of government,” he said.
During this Songkran holiday, 13 to 16 April, long- more than 2,000 locations will be set up to inspect cars. Most of the car travel will cover in excess of 600 km as thousands of Bangkok residents return to home to visit relatives in the North and Northeast.
To support the campaign, the Land Transport Department will deploy teams with radar speed guns from 1 April mainly on major highways and motorways. The speed limit on motorways varies from 90 to 120 km per hour depending on the section, but it quite common for commercial buses and even small pick-up vehicles to cruise in the fast lane at 150 to 160 kmph.
During the seven deadly days of Songkran, last year, road accidents killed 271 people nationwide, down 24.93% compared to 361 deaths in 2010, according to the Road Safety Centre data. However, that is the official count and government officials are notorious for fluffing their counts.
During last year’s celebrations road accidents dropped 8.56% from 3,516 to 3,215 accidents. Also, the number of injuries also dropped by 8.57% or from 3,802 to 3,476 injuries.
Nakhon Si Thammarat recorded the most accidents at 135 following by Nakhon Sawan at 115.
Meanwhile, Ayutthaya recorded the most deaths at 19 following by Nakhon Sawan (13) and Bangkok (12).
Drunk-driving remains the single highest cause of fatalities (32.59%), but the lack of driving skills and a respect for the Highway Code is not far behind.