Songkran is a happy time in Thailand but each year the Thai New Year celebration period is marred by TV’s “death toll index” showing the number of deaths on the road on a daily basis.
This is often accompanied by gory news footage of road accidents.
Yes, there’s the Hang Seng Index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the FTSE, the Straits Times Index and there’s Thailand’s Songkran Death Toll Index.
To prevent road deaths this year the Thai authorities considered banning the sale of liquor during this year’s Songkran period but scrapped the idea eventually fearing that the ban will harm the already damaged tourist industy.
Instead the Thai government opted to launch a campaign against drink-driving.
Too little too late, I think.
A total of 373 people were killed and more than 4,000 injured in road accidents nationwide during the seven-day Songkran festival, which ended last Thursday.
Interior permanent secretary Wichai Srikwan said 3,977 road accidents across the country were recorded between April 10-16 – the seven-day period considered dangerous for road users during the Songkran holidays. That was 266 fewer accidents than last year.
Wichai said fatalities have risen to 373, five more than last year, while 4,332 people were injured, 471 less than the previous year.
During the seven-day period, Chiang Rai recorded the highest number of accidents (145) as well as the highest number of injuries (164) while Chiang Mai recorded the most deaths (14).
In seven provinces, no fatalities from road accidents were recorded – Trat, Chachoengsao, Yasothon, Amnat Charoen, Sakon Nakhon, Nan, and Yala.
On Thursday alone, the last day of the period, 343 road accidents were recorded, and 52 deaths. Suphan Buri had the highest number of accidents (13). The main causes of accidents were driving under the influence and speeding, and most accidents involved motorcycles.