By Wattana Khamchu
AS SONGKRAN holidaymakers started their journey back to Bangkok and officials intensified safety measures on highways, the Road Safety Centre yesterday said that the first six days (April 9-14) of Songkran had seen 2,915 road accidents. They claimed 306 lives and left 3,070 injured.
This was an across-the-board increase from the previous Songkran’s six-day period when 2,754 accidents killed 282 people and hurt 2,926 others, said Deputy Interior Minister Suthee Makboon.
Phitsanulok and Surin had the most accidents at 109 each, while Surin reported the highest deaths at 15 and the highest number of injuries at 124.
Only seven provinces recorded no road accident fatalities: Trang, Bung Kan, Phuket, Mae Hong Son, Yala, Samut Songkhram and Samut Sakhon.
On Tuesday alone, 509 accidents killed 55 people and injured 538 others. Phitsanulok recorded the most accidents at 24 cases, while Surin had the most casualties at six deaths and 31 injuries.
Police said most accidents stemmed from drunk driving at 47.15 per cent and speeding at 22.4 per cent, while a motorcycle was involved in most accidents (78 per cent).
Local roads saw most accidents (42.44 per cent) and highways (33.6 per cent). A third of such accidents occurred between 4pm and 8pm. About half of the accident victims were of working age.
Officials manning 2,247 main checkpoints nation-wide arrested 129,634 law-violating motorists, mostly for failing to wear helmets in 38,147 cases and failing to present a driver’s licence in 35,376 cases, Suthee added.
As many holidaymakers started to return to work cities, especially Bangkok, traffic jams were reported on many highways. Officials intensified safety measures, including ensuring all public transport drivers were sober and all vehicle safety tools were in place, Suthee said.
Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office, ML Panadda Disakula, instructed provincial authorities to keep an eye on Songkran revellers on the last day of the celebration and prevent accidents from water splashing.
Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha was concerned for travellers’ safety and traffic congestion and urged authorities to strictly enforce traffic laws, deputy government spokesman Maj-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.
Prayut also called on motorists to drive responsibly and thanked administrative, police and military officers and all volunteers who worked hard throughout Songkran, Sansern said.
Northeastern provinces reportedly increased their bus trips by two or three times to meet the demand for returning holidaymakers.
The Bangkok (Ekamai) Bus Terminal arranged over 700 passenger buses and vans a day to support over 5,000 people expected to return to Bangkok yesterday and today.
It also had security units, including the Second Cavalry Division and Thong Lo police station, provide security at the facility.