By the close of the Songkran festival on Wednesday the road death toll had climbed to 321.
That number is close to the "target" of 320 deaths, based on last year's statistics.
Some people question the merits of counting road deaths during the festival, but we have to admit, the number of deaths on the roads always increases during Songkran, also known as the "death counting festival".
The number of accidents this year dropped to 2,828, down from more than 3,000 last year.
The national road accident prevention policy committee said the main causes of accidents continued to be drink driving, careless driving and speeding.
Is that good news? Not a bit.
These statistics show that our efforts to end the Songkran insanity have been a failure and it's time to review our tactics for making road travel safer.
Since booze has been blamed as the main culprit, we should expect harsh measures to control the sale of it.
Anti-drink driving campaigners should start looking into seeking a total ban on alcohol sales during the entire festival. If that were the case, it would add to several bans or restrictions we already have - no booze commercials; no booze sales at gas station convenience stores or roadside stalls; no booze sales during 2-5pm and after midnight; no sales on major religious days; no sales on an election day (which actually begins on the eve of the election and remains effective until the next day).
And the latest rule, which threatens any passenger caught drinking in a vehicle with a hefty fine.
Yet the effectiveness of these laws remains debatable.
Moreover, booze as the stats show - is just part of a larger problem. What good are laws that don't get enforced? Thailand's record and reputation in this area has been poor.
Reckless driving is another major problem that might be even more important than alcohol control.
But unlike the anti-booze campaign, we hardly see any attempts to prevent dangerous driving. Careless, irresponsible drivers often annoy or even bully other motorists. You see it every day.
Some foreigners point out that Thais are generally nice people, until they get behind the wheel.
We need harsher measures to discipline these careless drivers _ not just during Songkran or New Year, but all year long.
These people speed, ignore traffic lights and overtake when they shouldn't because they feel they can get away with it. And they're right.
Traffic police at checkpoints or intersections often turn a blind eye to these dangerous drivers. Police seem more likely to focus on easier targets such as motorcyclists without helmets or licences.
We seem to have many agencies dealing with traffic, but that hasn't made our roads safer.
Instead of leaving the job entirely to the traffic police, other agencies like the Land Transport Department should do more to make road travel safer.
If necessary, revamp the driving licence system. Perhaps having tougher driving tests before licences are issued would be a good start.
When it comes to road safety, there should be no compromise to ensure that safe driving is practised at all times, and not just during the festive season.
Knowing how to drive isn't enough to earn someone a spot on the road. They must also know how to drive responsibly.
Ploenpote Atthakor is Deputy Opinion Pages Editor, Bangkok Post.
About the author
- Writer: Ploenpote Atthakor
Position: Deputy Editorial Pages Editor