Booze sales, accidents set to surge in April
text size

Booze sales, accidents set to surge in April

Sathien Sathientham, chief executive of Carabao Group, the SET-listed manufacturer of Carabao Dang beverages, said sales of alcoholic beverages in April are expected to double compared with other months except December.

"Road safety network partners are concerned that following the pandemic, the death toll from road accidents will rise as people return to their normal routine," said Nuttapong Boontob, a board member and assistant secretary of the ThaiRoads Foundation, a non-profit and road safety advocacy organisation.

Road accidents always skyrocket during the New Year and Songkran festivals, he said.

The authorities will be monitoring road accidents during Songkran's infamous "seven dangerous days" period (April 11-17).

There were 2,203 road accidents, causing 264 deaths and 2,208 injuries, during the Songkran festival from April 11-17, 2023, down by 38% compared to 2019, but up by 15% compared to 2020, according to the Interior Ministry's Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation.

The main causes of accidents were speeding (38%), drink-driving (24%) and reckless driving behaviour (18%), according to a report by the ThaiRoads Foundation.

However, before the pandemic in 2019, drink-driving was the major cause of road accidents (37%) followed by speeding (28%).

"During 2023's Songkran, drink-related accidents increased while the pandemic eased," according to the report.

Mr Nuttapong said road accidents due to drink-driving during Songkran this year are expected to increase as the government plans to lengthen this year's Songkran festival to promote tourism and stimulate the economy.

Moreover, in December last year the government extended the opening hours of pubs and bars in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chon Buri and Koh Samui until 4am.

"I know the government wants to boost the economy, but they should also consider the fact that the growth of the economy comes with the losses from road accidents, which is also deemed as a loss to the economy," Mr Nuttapong said.

The loss of economic value due to road accidents was estimated at more than 642 billion baht in 2019, with 19,904 fatalities, according to a study by the Thailand Development Research Institute in 2021.

Mr Nuttapong said many Thais are still unaware of the effects of alcohol, especially the inability to make decisions while driving.

Some people still think it is okay to be drunk while driving, he added.

"We always stress in our campaigns that drink-driving affects the driver's decision while driving. However, Thais still don't buy that. So, another way to solve this problem is to strictly enforce the law," Mr Nuttapong said.

To prevent any untoward incidents during the festival, he also called on local police to set up more security checkpoints.

Mr Nuttapong said road safety is a shared responsibility and the government, civil society and the private sector must all play a role in reducing deaths and injuries.

Do you like the content of this article?