Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year festival, is the longest public holiday period in the kingdom and the favourite time of the year for Thai people in Bangkok and other urban areas to flock to their home provinces in the countryside for family reunions in the villages.
With millions of Thais on the road over the “seven dangerous days” of Songkran, this is naturally also the period when traffic accidents and fatalities shoot up dramatically and the death toll is released to the media every day.
Governments come and go, as it seems, from year to year in Thailand, and they all launch similar (that is similarly ambitious yet feeble) campaigns each April to reduce the number of road deaths over Songkran, usually with little or no success.
The current military government, unfortunately, makes no exception to this rule.
The “seven dangerous days” of this year’s Thai new year festival have now come to an end and the Bangkok Post reports:
A total of 364 people were killed and 3,559 injured in 3,373 road accidents nationwide during the “seven dangerous days” of this year’s Songkran Festival, Deputy Interior Minister Sutee Markboon said on Thursday.
This was “considerably higher” than last year’s road toll, which saw only “2,992 road accidents, with 322 deaths and 3,225 injuries”. In fact, it was the the highest Songkran death toll since 2009, when 373 people were killed.
The Bangkok Post adds:
Of the 3,373 accidents this year, most were attributed to drink driving (39.31%), followed by speeding (24.35%).
Most of the accidents involved motorcycles (81.34%).
Business as usual, unfortunately.
But not just Songkran is a dangerous time for road users in the kingdom. Beyond the “seven dangerous days” of Songkran, Thailand records the highest number of road deaths in Southeast Asia and is among the world’s most dangerous countries for motorists.
According to statistics from the World Health Organization, Thailand is ranked second in the world in terms of road fatalities, with 44 deaths per 100,000 people (5.1% of Thailand’s overall deaths), compared to the global average of 18. To make things worse, statistics taken inside Thailand only include victims who die at the scene, not those who die later in hospital as a result of fatal injuries sustained in a road crash.
Songkran Road Accident Statistics – 2007 – 2015