Motorcyclists main victims of Songkran accidents

Three out of four road accidents during the Songkran festival involved motorcycles, with drunk driving the biggest single cause of crashes, according to the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

  • Published: 18/04/2013 at 04:29 PM
  • Newspaper section: topstories

A total of 321 people were killed and 3,040 injured in 2,828 road accidents nationwide during the seven dangerous days (April 11-17) of the Songkran holiday.

The number of accidents was down 9.62% on 2012 when there were 3,129 crashes. The number of injuries was also down, 8.43%, but the death toll was one more than for the same seven-day period in 2012.

Deputy Interior Minister Pol Lt Gen Chatt Kuldiloke said drunk drinking was the main cause of accidents, with alcohol involved in 39.11%, followed by speeding at 23.59%. 

He said 78.11% of accidents involved motorcycles, and 21% of the deaths and injuries during the seven days were attributed to motorcyclists not wearing crash helmets.

Public Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong said motorcycles are the most popular form of transport in Thailand, with 19 million bikes registered with the Department of Land Transport at the end of 2012.

Motorcycles accounted for 58.6% of the total 32.4 million vehicle registrations, followed by personal vehicles not exceeding seven seats at 36%.

According to the National Injury Surveillance Network, under the Bureau of Epidemiology of the Disease Control Department, 81.67% of deaths and injuries from road accidents  in 2012 involved motorcycle users.

"This shows that motorcyclists are 37 times more at risk of losing their life than people using other types of vehicles," he said. 

Deputy Public Health Minister Cholanan Srikaew said the ministry has safe driving campaigns focused on control of alcoholic beverages under the 2008 Alcohol Beverage Control Act and rescue services.

During the seven-day period, the ministry found 474 violations of the alcohol act. He said 218 people were charged and the other 256 issued warnings.

The most common offence was the advertising and sale of alcoholic beverages without a licence, and offering free products as sales inducements.

Pol Lt Gen Chatt said over half the total fatalities over Songkran, or 56.70%, were working-age people.

The Road Safety Centre set up 2,354 checkpoints throughout the country, manning them with 69,369 officials during the Songkran holiday.

Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

A total of 232,600 motorcyclists were charged with failing to wear a safety helmet and 222,601 motorists faced charges of driving without a licence.

Samarn Futrakul, director of the Office of Alcohol Beverage Consumption Control Committee, said it is necessary to change the perception of the relaxation of enforcement of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act during Songkran as the period poses a higher risk. Enactment of the law should be strengthened to reduce losses from alcohol consumption.

The government should also amend the law itself to reduce loopholes and ensure the safety of the public, particularly youths, by banning alcohol sales on dates with the highest number of deaths. 

Chuwit Chantaros, secretary of the Alcohol Watch Network, and other anti-alcohol groups on Thursday condemned liquor producers for their aggressive marketing campaigns during Songkran, the period when there is the greatest loss of life from alcohol consumption.

They accused the producers of being irresponsible and intent only on profits, and they had no regard for the loss of lives and the injuries and other social problems caused by alcohol consumption.

They asked the Interior Ministry to act against local administration organisations which allow activities to sell alcohol in areas prohibited by the 2008 Alcohol Beverage Control Act.

Activists arrange a placard asking alcohol beverage firms to stop profiting from death.

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