THE road death toll has reached 248, with 2,557 injured in 2,449 accidents during the first four days of the so-called seven dangerous Songkran days, the Road Safety Centre announced yesterday.
The figures marked an across-the-board increase over the same period last year, which saw 226 deaths, 2,457 injured and 2,385 road accidents.
On Saturday alone, there were 603 accidents, killing 57 people and injuring 626 others. Some 44 per cent of the road accidents stemmed from drunk driving and 26 per cent from speeding. A majority (80 per cent) of the crashes involved motorcycles, the centre said.
From April 11 to April 14, Chiang Mai reported the highest number of accidents – 99 – and the highest number of injuries – 109. Nakhon Ratchasima reported the most number of deaths – 17. Only eight provinces: Yala, Ranong, Lop Buri, Satun, Samut Songkhram, Nong Khai, Nong Bua Lamphu and Angthong did not report any deaths from road accidents during Songkran.
As many holidaymakers were expected to start their return journey to Bangkok and neighbouring provinces for work today, the authorities would emphasise on highway checkpoints, roadside service points, pit stops and ensure public transport drivers’ sobriety, the centre said.
Meanwhile, the National Council for Peace and Order and Army deputy spokeswoman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong reported yesterday that the authorities had seized a total of 7,067 vehicles from drunk drivers in the first four days of monitoring road accidents over the Songkran holidays.
Apart from seizing 5,019 cars/trucks and 2,048 motorcycles from April 11 to 14 in an effort to enforce drunk-driving laws, the authorities also seized driver’s licences from 16,588 motorists and motorcyclists. The seized vehicles would be returned to the owners after the seven-day accident-monitoring period, she added.
Colonel Sirichan reminded people that very hot weather was forecast for Sunday to Wednesday, with maximum temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius and summer storms expected in upper Thailand plus Bangkok and surrounding areas. She said the Army and related agencies would help affected residents where necessary.
National police deputy chief Pol General Weerachai Songmetta, meanwhile, presided over an oath-taking rite in Samut Prakan province in which 380 drunk-driving offenders vowed not to repeat the offence, before listening to a monk’s sermon. They were then brought to court for legal action.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, expressed satisfaction with the emphasis on culture in Songkran events nationwide and the lower number of crimes reported during this period. He urged people playing in the water for too long in the hot sun to beware of heat stroke or pneumonia or other health problems, Government Spokesman Lt-General Sansern Kaewkamnerd said.
Many holidaymakers continued to celebrate Songkran in their hometowns for the last day yesterday despite the hot weather.
Phitsanulok province, where the mercury rose to 39 degrees Celsius, still saw many splashing water at designated zones while Uttaradit’s Muang district saw a five-kilometre-long congestion of Songkran revellers’ vehicles on Samranreun Road as they engaged in fun water wars.
Meanwhile those in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai, Lampang, and Phayao made merit at temples for the auspicious beginning of the New Year, while people stood along a road section from the Tambon Wangka Market to the famous Utamanusorn Bridge (Mon Bridge) in Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhlaburi district to offer alms to 199 monks.
As some started their journey back to the city, traffic police commander Pol Maj-General Theerasak Suriwong said police had arranged 20 shuttle vans to give a free ride to the returnees from the Mor Chit Bus Terminal to the Mor Chit and Victory Monument BTS train stations from 4am-9am and 4pm-8pm yesterday.
In the mean time, Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith yesterday inspected the Doi Ruak hill area on Highway No 12 (Tak-Mae Sot) in the border province of Tak, after three major crashes killed 27 people in the past two weeks.