CHIANGRAI TIMES – The carnage on Thailand’s highways during the seven deadly days of Songkran reached 320 fatalities surpassing the 2011 tally by 18%. The Road Safety Directing Center reported 320 road fatalities during 11 to 17 April that represents a tragic 18.08% increase on 271 road fatalities during the festival last year.
Road safety experts had earlier hoped that an extensive pre-Songkran safety campaign and limitations on the sale of alcohol would help to curb the accidents.
Alcohol consumption was the single main cause, followed by fast dangerous driving.
The country faces an enormous medical bill to treat more than 3,000 accident victims many of them covered by a national insurance scheme.
Southern province and gateway to Samui Island, Suratthani, had the worst record with 13 fatalities followed by Nakhon Si Thammarat (11) and Nakhon Sawan and Phichit (10 each).
Officials claimed road accident related injuries reduced 0.04% to 3,320 from 3,476 in 2011. It was the only bright spot in the sad and depressing data released Wednesday.
Far north Chiang Rai remained the top hot spot for road injuries for the second year in a row with 124 people injured followed by Nakhon Sawan (120) and Nakhon Si Thammarat (112).
Road accidents decreased 2.67% to 3,129 compared to 3,215 during the same period last year.
Chiang Rai topped the accident data with 125 followed by Nakhon Sawan (118) and Nakhon Si Thammarat (108). Not all accidents resulted in injuries.
The centre also identified six provinces that remained free of fatal accidents during the holiday. There were: Nakhon Phanom; Trat; Trang; Pattani; Ranong and Satun.
Alcohol consumption was blamed for 39.21% of accidents followed by fast driving (21.57%); ignoring traffic rules (15.12%); incompetent driving (14.96%); poor visibility (8.28%); and sleeping at the wheel (2.65%).
There was a general disregard for traffic or safety rules that resulted in accidents. It was estimated that 28.90% of the motor cyclists failed to wear helmets and just 2.25% of car drivers failed to fasten their seat belts. – by Wanwisa Ngamsangchaikit