Drunk drivers risk having cars seized over New Year
Police have vowed to strictly enforce traffic regulations and are considering impounding vehicles of suspected drunk drivers in attempts to minimise road accidents during the coming festive season.
Security agencies, meanwhile, have been put on alert and ordered to gather intelligence information and monitor social media for distortions facts or instigating chaos ahead of and during the New Year holiday.
National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda said strict enforcement of the laws is necessary to reduce road accidents and fatalities and police will get tough on drunk-driving and sitting on the side of pickup trucks bed while they are in motion.
He said police are also considering seizing the vehicles of drunk drivers, noting the measure has effectively reduced road accidents when large numbers of people have travelled to the provinces to celebrate the New Year holidays in the past.
Pol Gen Chakthip insisted every measure is intended to reduce road accidents and fatalities, pointing out that 80% of the cases are caused by disrespect for traffic laws and regulations.
"Police don't want to seize your cars but they have to if it will save lives," he said ahead of a police meeting to discuss road safety measures during the festive season.
Over the years, successive governments have struggled to significantly reduce road deaths and injuries during the period.
A total of 478 people were killed in road accidents during 2016-2017 New Year despite the "seven dangerous days" road safety campaign -- the highest toll in a decade.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has instructed security agencies to monitor social media to prevent distortion of information, said Defence Ministry spokesman Khongcheep Tantravanich.
Gen Prawit has told the authorities to intensify their intelligence-gathering operations, especially those concerning public safety and the trafficking of illicit goods.
Mr Khongcheep also said the deputy premier has stressed the need to step up screening of people entering and leaving the country and keep a close eye on people on the blacklist.
According to Pol Gen Chakthip, he has instructed officials to collaborate with security agencies in stepping up efforts against criminal activities.
Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul and Pol Gen Chalermkiat Sriworakhan, his deputies, have been assigned to supervise operations and ensure public safety, he added.
Pol Gen Chakthip said intelligence information has so far detected nothing unusual but called on the public to act as eyes and ears for authorities to ensure a safe holiday.
According to the police chief, the Royal Thai Police have asked City Hall to limit venues for New Year celebrations to three -- the Ratchaprasong area, Asiatique and CDC mall.
Checkpoints will be set up to target drug-related activities because traffickers tend to take advantage of the festivities to smuggle drugs and other contraband goods.
He added that the Tourism Police Bureau has recruited 3,000 volunteers and trained them to help provide assistance to foreign travellers during the holiday.