By THE NATION
Nakhon Ratchasima, the “Gateway to the Northeast”, had the highest death toll (19) and Chiang Mai had both the highest total injuries (136 people) and crashes (126), the Road Safety Centre announced yesterday.
The total number of deaths and injuries in 3,418 road accidents from April 11 to 16 were slightly higher than the same period last year, when 335 people died and 3,506 were injured in 3,388 traffic accidents, the Army’s civil affairs office head Lt-General Thanes Kalapruek said.
On Monday alone, 425 accidents left 49 people dead and 464 injured. Speeding and drunk driving were the most-cited factors at 28.47 per cent and 27.29 per cent respectively, while 82 per cent of accidents involved motorcycles, he said.
Officers manning 2,031 checkpoints nationwide arrested 176,415 law-violating motorists, most of whom were motorcyclists and their passengers not wearing crash helmets (49,866 cases) and those not in possession of their driver’s licence (46,067 cases).
The National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and related authorities have seized a total of 13,964 vehicles (10,139 motorcycles and 3,825 cars/trucks) from drunk drivers during April 11-16, said NCPO and Army deputy spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong.
Meanwhile, Royal Thai Police deputy chief and spokesman Pol General Weerachai Songmetta said in Bangkok that from April 11 to 16, police had arrested 231,334 motorcyclists for failing to wear crash helmets and 21,829 drunk drivers – the latter number was 5,301 more than during the same period last Songkran.
Noting there were generally less crimes during Songkran in comparison with previous years, Weerachai also reported that 8,213 houses nationwide had joined the police Songkran vacation home-watch scheme – a 43.7 per cent increase, or 2,489 houses – compared to 5,715 homes during the last Songkran. None of those houses were victims of theft.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister General Anupong Paojinda said the high fatality and casualty rate during Songkran, despite officers’ hard work to implement road safety measures, was because of ignorance among the Thai public.
“Many accidents stemmed from drunk driving even while the authorities were implementing strict measures, including arrests and vehicle seizure. This shows that strict law enforcement must go hand in hand with creating public awareness. The media should also cooperate and provide the channel/stage for state agencies to talk about this,” he said.