It’s that time of the year again when road deaths make daily headlines across the country. Thailand’s so-called “seven dangerous days” of the new year holiday period when many Thais head upcountry to visit their friends and families and often drink and drive – more often than not resulting in fatal road accidents – started counting on Tuesday, December 29, and will run until January 4.
According to The Nation, there’s a total of “2,165 checkpoints nationwide, manned by 64,432 officials” that have been set up specifically for the new year holiday period this year.
Last year, the final figure was 341 people killed after seven days of counting dead bodies on the roads of Thailand (only victims who die at the scene, not those who die in hospital, are included in the extenuated stats). Will the government with its anti-drink driving campaign succeed in reducing the death toll this year, or will the number of fatalities increase again as it did over the seven dangerous days of Songkran 2015?
Only on the first of the “seven dangerous days” of the 2015-2016 New Year festival period, 39 people were killed and 456 injured in 439 road accidents nationwide. As usual (and despite a tougher crackdown on drunk driving than in previous years), drunk driving was again the main cause of accidents (27%), followed by speeding (20%). According to the Bangkok Post, about 90% of all accidents involved motorcycles.
On Wednesday, December 30, the second of the “seven dangerous days”, 65 people were killed and 624 injured in a total of 590 accidents. This was a slight “improvement” from last year when the first two days of the New Year holiday period claimed 128 lives.
On New Year’s Eve, however, the number of accidents climbed to 662, causing 74 road deaths and 675 injuries. The number of fatalities climbed even further to 75 on New Year’s Day, with 657 injuries in 647 crashes.
These were the most fatalities reported in a single day so far this holiday season which, as of New Year’s Day, had seen an 11.4% increase in traffic deaths from last year.
On January 2, the number of road deaths decreased slightly to 39, with 443 injuries in 415 accidents. Nonetheless, the Bangkok Post notes, “total road casualties (killed and injured) are up 13%” from last year. As in the old year, the major cause of the crashes were drunk driving (23%), followed by speeding at approx. 16%.
By January 3, the sixth of the “seven dangerous days”, the death toll jumped to 340, catching up with last year’s total toll, after 48 people were killed and 361 injured in 339 accidents nationwide. Even Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha admitted that the government’s all-out crackdown on traffic violations and drunk driving, which allowed authorities to temporarily seize vehicles, had “failed to bring down the number of road accidents.”
With 40 road deaths and 289 reported injuries in a total of 287 crashes, Thailand’s “seven dangerous days” finally came to a close on January 4, with 11.44% more people killed than last year.
In all, 380 deaths were recorded and 3,505 people injured in a total of 3,379 road accidents over the New Year’s holiday period 2015-2016. This also marks an increase of 12.73% in the number of accidents and 12.5% in the number of injuries over the corresponding period last year.
As in previous years, drunk driving remained the major cause of accidents (24%), followed by speeding at 17%. More than 80% of the crashes involved motorcycles.
No doubt, this year’s anti-drink driving campaign was as much a failure as in previous years. But having said that, as Khaosod English point out:
Even without the Seven Dangerous Days, Thailand’s traffic-related fatalities are often ranked among the highest in the world. One statistic, compiled by the World Health Organization and the University of Michigan, put Thailand second in the world in term of annual traffic deaths.
So unfortunately the so-called “seven dangerous days” are just pretty much business as usual.
|Tuesday, December 29||39||456||439|
|Wednesday, December 30||65||624||590|
|Thursday, December 31||74||675||662|
|Friday, January 1||75||657||647|
|Saturday, January 2||39||443||415|
|Sunday, January 3||48||361||339|
|Monday, January 4||40||289||287|