Risk life and limb it’s Songkran

BANGKOK, 10 April 2017: Thailand’s Royal Thai Police has postponed some of the safety regulations that were supposed to be introduced at Songkran festival to cut road accidents.

The decision to postpone some regulations was a response to a public outcry mainly from Thai citizens using social media, who believed having fun was worth the risk of incurring fatal accidents.

According to the authorities, the main backlash, was against a passenger ban in the cargo well of pickup trucks, or in non-seat, rear sections of two-door trucks.  It’s a popular practice to pile passengers into the cargo well of pick-up trucks with fatal consequences when trucks are involved in road accidents, or swerve off the road to miss on-coming traffic.

Thousands are maimed and injured on the roads during the Songkran festival. Although, authorities will discourage sitting in the cargo wells of pickup trucks, no penalties will be enforced. There are obvious consequences such as the suffering families of the injured or dead have to endure, the cost to the economy, and the burden on already stretched public health services. Very little is reported about the financial toll especially when accidents rob families of their main wage earners.

For the duration of Songkran, Thais have the freedom to fill up their pickup trucks with passengers and if they are travelling in passenger cars the seat belt requirement is limited to the driver and front seat passenger.

However, people are forbidden from throwing water from pickup trucks while driving on highways. They are allowed to throw water from pickup trucks in community areas in towns and villages when their vehicles are parked, or moving slowly on local roads, not on highways.

According the Cabinet website, the spokesman said the government would like to establish a correct understanding among the public about law enforcement during the festival to ensure safety and reduce accidents.

For pickups, no more than six passengers can sit in the cargo well and the rear areas of two-door pickups, but it is forbidden to sit on the edges of the pickup trays or on the tailgate.

The authorities will strictly prosecute drunk drivers, motorists driving beyond the speed limit, or driving recklessly to reduce the risk of accidents.

 

People are encouraged to enjoy the Songkran Festival in a traditional fashion with an emphasis on courtesy, to preserve the country’s culture.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration asked the public to refrain from festive activities such as turning on loud music, dancing in the cargo well of pickup trucks, wearing impolite attire and engaging in inappropriate dancing.

The BMA has also asked the public to conserve water and enjoy the festival  without using large water guns, consuming drug and alcohol, wearing impolite costumes or throwing ice or powder at passers-by.

The highway carnage over what is called by the media the seven deadly days of Songkran, 11 to 17 April, 2016, reached 442 fatalities, surpassing the 2015 toll by 21.43%, or 78 deaths.

On average there were 63 deaths per day over the seven-day travel period, a statistic that resembles war zone casualties.

Injuries from road accidents are horrendous. During last year’s Songkran injuries increased 2.73% to 3,656 compared with 3,559 in 2015. Road accidents (incidents rather than injuries) increased 2.19% to 3,447 compared with 3,373 during the same period in 2015.

They are sad statistics, not only for the needless loss of life, but also for the crippling impact accidents have on thousands of families who subsequently suffer a financial burden for decades.

Alcohol consumption is the main culprit, blamed for 34.09% of all accidents followed by dangerous driving 32.93%. Motorcycles were involved in the most accidents and the resulting serious injuries were linked to the majority of riders not wearing helmets.