Songkran isn’t even over in some parts of the country but the official counting period for road deaths, accidents and injuries over the “seven dangerous days” of the week-long Songkran holiday period has already come to an end.
So with yet another ambitious road safety campaign in place and following a record 442 people killed last year over Songkran, could the daily road death count be substantially reduced this year? As usual, don’t hold your breath.
Any other time of the year, roads in Thailand are certainly not particularly safe either. But with millions of Thais on the road over Songkran traveling to meet family members in the provinces, people partying hard and drinking even more heavily than usual, this is naturally the time of the year when road deaths shoot up dramatically.
Only in 2016, a record 442 people were killed and 3,656 injured in a total of 3,447 road accidents nationwide over the Songkran festival period.
Aside from cracking down on drunk driving as usual, authorities this year also launched a campaign enforcing the use of seat belts and against Songkran revelers sitting in the trays of pickup trucks.
But has this year’s even more ambitious road safety campaign yielded any positive results in terms of road deaths and accidents? Here are the final (and hardly surprising) numbers released by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday:
|Tuesday, April 11||40||412||408|
|Wednesday, April 12||55||623||586|
|Thursday, April 13||88||743||747|
|Friday, April 14||64||652||639|
|Saturday, April 15||58||629||600|
|Sunday, April 16||45||426||403|
|Monday, April 17||40||323||307|
So with the death toll down from 442 to 390, or 11.8% year-on-year, the government may argue that this year’s campaign has been successful to a certain extent and at least the number of deaths could be reduced.
Having said that, it’s still the second highest number of road deaths accumulated over the Songkran festival period since authorities started releasing official figures to the media in 2007.
On top of that, the number of accidents actually went up 7% year-on-year, or from 3,447 to 3,690, while the number of people injured also rose by 4.2%, or from 3.656 to 3,808. So the success of this year’s road safety campaign, to say the least, has been extremely limited.
As in previous years, drunk driving (43%) and speeding (28%) remained the single biggest causes of accidents. Also as usual, motorcycles were involved in 85% of the accidents – a figure that hardly comes as a surprise in the face of Thailand’s top spot position in motorcycle road deaths worldwide.
For comparison, here’s the Songkran death toll of previous years: