Safe zones, booze ban for Songkran

Police have decided to zone off alcohol-free areas in Bangkok and major provinces for this year's Songkran celebration to ensure safety for all revellers, along with other measures to reduce traffic congestion and accidents.

“The major change [in security measures] this year will be zoning areas designated by each police station and each Metropolitan Police division to ensure safety. For example, the zoning areas in Bangkok will include Khao San Road, Silom Road and Rama 9 Road. Other provinces are Khon Khon, Pattaya and Phuket,” deputy national police chief Ruangsak Jaritek said on Monday.

“Within such areas, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages will be strictly prohibited. Security officers will conduct foot patrols of the areas.”  

Foreign tourists join in Songkran celebrations on Khao San road. Bangkok Post file photo.

All revellers must leave their vehicles at a designated parking space and enter the zoning areas on foot, he said. Pol Lt Gen Ruangsak said anyone who drinks before driving or riding as well as any passenger caught drinking in vehicles on the road will face a maximum of six months' imprisonment or a 30,000 baht fine, or both.

Zoning areas may have already been established in certain localities, however all police stations are being urged to find more spots to implement the zoning policy, he added.

Pol Lt Gen Ruangsak was speaking after meeting with officers from the Traffic Police Division and the Highway Police Division to check on their readiness to enforce an anti-road accident campaign for the Songkran holiday. 

About 12,000 security checkpoints and public service spots – more than double the 5,000 last year – will be set up along major and minor highway routes including those in municipal areas across the country. 

“The national police chief [Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew] has ordered more than 80,000 officers and another 30,000 volunteers to oversee security affairs this year,” the deputy national police chief said. 

The number of road accidents was lowered by 5 per cent last year, Pol Lt Gen Ruangsak said. For this year, however, police have not set a target for reducing the number of road casualties during the "seven dangerous days" of Songkran but would simply do the best they can. 

The highest risk areas for motorists are in eight provinces under the supervision of the Provincial Police Region 3: Nakhon Ratchasima, Chaiyaphum, Buri Ram, Yasothon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani

The areas had numerous crossroads and intersections with blind spots or unclear and faded traffic signs.

Police patrol vehicles will be parked at these spots to ensure that motorists take extra caution when they near them, he said, adding that rapid response mobile paramedic teams would be in place in case of emergency. 

Police will also distribute 500,000 motorcycle helmet comfort inserts as a way to raise awareness among riders and passengers that helmets save lives.   

The soft foam inner padding in helmets often comes lose after heavy use. 

Deputy Transport Minister Prasert Chanruangthong on Monday said the state-owned Transport Co, which runs bus services, and its concessionaires will increase daily bus and van trips from 5,000 to 7,000 a day to cater to surging demand during the Thai traditional New Year.

Related search: songkran, alcohol, motorists, drinking

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Writer: Veera Phothapiwat