Songkran road deaths 'could halve'
Crackdown paying off, ministry says
The death toll on Thai roads over Songkran has proven significantly lower than last year and could end up being reduced by half, according to the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.
However, the number of traffic law violators facing legal action has already passed a million, it added.
Dr Sukhum Karnchanapimai, permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, said yesterday the situation had clearly improved year-on-year.
A crackdown by local authorities to check vehicles and test drivers more frequently, coupled with stronger enforcement of punishments for those who break the law, ensured road safety was a top priority during the Thai New Year, famous for its water-splashing festivities.
The department recorded 2,702 road accidents over the last five days, the first five of seven days of stepped-up vigilance, resulting in 2,807 injuries and 297 deaths.
Meanwhile, 4.79 million vehicles were stopped and checked, up 19% from 2018, it said, with the number of lawbreakers over the period standing at 1.06 million, marking a rise of 35.6%. Yesterday alone, 235,838 people were arrested for traffic violations. Of those, 64,926 were not wearing a helmet and 57,452 did not have a driving licence.
Dr Sukhum said drink-driving remains the leading cause of death on the roads, with 40.7% of fatalities involving an intoxicated driver. Speeding was second on the list (27.5%).
Nearly 80% of all road accidents featured at least one motorcycle and 67% occurred on main roads, he added.
Chiang Mai posted the most road accidents at 104 while the most deaths (14) were in Udon Thani.
Last year, the department reported a higher death toll of 418, with 3,897 people injured from a total of 3,724 accidents. Just over 786,400 people faced legal action and 4.1 million vehicles were checked by local authorities.
Heavy traffic was observed yesterday on the main routes from the provinces to Bangkok as waves of people returned to the capital from the long Songkran holiday.
On Highway No.2, better known as Mittraphap Road, the main route for travellers from the Northeast to Bangkok, roads leading to intersections were heavily congested, as were petrol stations along the route.
Reports said many more cars used three key routes from the North to the capital this year: Highway No.1, or Phahon Yothin in Nakhon Sawan province, Highway No.117 between Nakhon Sawan and Phitsanulok, and Bypass No.122.
The number of passengers using inter-provincial bus services operated by Transport Co was expected to peak at about 180,000 today. Yesterday, the total number of bus passengers heading back to Bangkok was estimated around 164,000, said Jirasak Yaovatsakul, president of Transport Co.
The State Railway of Thailand estimated that about 112,000 train passengers travelled back to Bangkok yesterday.