By The Nation
DRIVERS suspected to be drunk will be forced to undergo blood tests for alcohol especially during the festive period.
The Transport Ministry and Road Safe Fund have earmarked Bt69 million to cover these tests, as drunk driving has been found to be one of the most common causes of road casualties.
The World Health Organisation’s recent report on road-safety revealed that Thailand has as many as 60 road deaths daily. The fatalities are in addition to a much larger number of victims getting injured and maimed on the roads.
“Blood-alcohol concentration tests aim to ensure that drunk drivers are prosecuted,” Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said yesterday.
He issued this warning as the government prepares a major road-safety campaign during the New Year holidays.
Since millions of people hit the road during the festive period, the risk of road accidents increase. In recent years, Thailand has been designating seven days of the New Year period as “Dangerous Days” to remind road users that they need to be careful.
This year, the seven dangerous days run from December 27 to January 2. Blood-alcohol concentration tests during the seven dangerous days associated with New Year 2018 found that nearly 60 per cent of the drivers exceeded the safe blood-alcohol level.
Drivers involved in accidents could be asked by police to undergo a blood test, said assistant National Police chief Pol Lt-General Damrongsak Kitti-prapatr.
“If they refuse, they will be considered as driving drunk,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thai Health Promotion Foundation’s manager Supreeda Adulyanon called on people to refrain from giving gifts of alcohol for New Year.
Public Health Ministry’s permanent secretary, Sukhum Karnchanapimai said more than 166,000 staff will be on duty to provide emergency medical services during the holiday period. “They will be based at 8,583 units with support from 20,741 vehicles,” he added.
Piyasakol, meanwhile, said people could call the 1669 hotline for urgent medical help. “Our team should be able to reach victims within 10 minutes in at least 80 per cent of the cases,” he said.
The quicker victims reach medical workers, the better chance they have of surviving and avoiding disabilities, he said.