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Road fatalities halved when alcohol banned on major Buddhist holidays, safety centre finds

Feb 18. 2019
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By The Nation

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A ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks on Asarnha Bucha day and the first day of Buddhist Lent reduced road fatalities on those days by roughly a half.

Dr Thanapong Jiwong, manager of the Road Safety Academic Centre, said on Monday that road accidents normally caused 40 deaths a day in the Kingdom.

“But, with the alcohol ban in effect on Asarnha Bucha and Buddhist Lent days in 2017, the number of road fatalities reduced to 21 per day only,” he said. 

There was also a clear reduction in road-accident victims admitted to hospital with severe injuries during the three-month-long Buddhist Lent period two years ago, Thanapong said. 

“The number of admitted victims reduced by between 10 and 15 per cent during the period,” he added. 

Many Buddhists abstain from alcohol during the period out of religious belief. 

“Severe injuries remain five in every 100 victims. So, when the number of admitted victims reduces, it means many people have avoided becoming physically disabled,” he pointed out. 

Lately, a proposal has emerged that authorities should ban alcoholic beverages on April 13, too. 

However, the road-safety centre manager said he was not sure whether such a ban would work, as April 13 was part of the Songkran Festival during which so many revellers enjoy drinking liquor or beer that they had stocked up on or bought beforehand.

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