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Accident prevention group calls for alcohol-free Songkran

The Accident Prevention Network is campaigning for an alcohol-free and accident-free Songkran.

Alcohol consumption is a common cause of road accidents and fighting over the Thai New Year, when people like to enjoy Songkran festivities.

Millions of Thais celebrate the festival in mid-April each year. "We have recommended three main measures to relevant organisations," the network's director Prommin Kantiya said.

The three measures are Zoning, No Sitting Idly, and Stop Staying Indifferent.

Prommin said Zoning means that when an area is declared alcohol-free for Songkran, a clear announcement should be posted and a work panel established to enforce the ban. In addition to officials, volunteers should also be recruited to help.

Several famous areas for Songkran celebrations in Bangkok such as Khao San Road should be declared alcohol free, he said.

Prommin said the ban on alcohol sales at petrol stations and along roads during the holiday break should also be strictly enforced.

"No Sitting Idly" refers to the need for officials to actively man checkpoints and operate service centres.

"During the Songkran Festival, we usually have more than 3,000 checkpoints and service centres in the country," Prommin said. "So let's make the utmost use of them. Officials or volunteers assigned to these spots should not simply sit idle inside their tents."

He also encouraged executives and senior officials to survey the checkpoints and service centres to follow up on progress and offer moral support to those manning them.

"Stop Staying Indifferent" is recommended to engage all sectors of society.

"Don't wait for the government to handle this mission alone. The government has limited resources," Prommin said.

He noted that for a safe and alcohol-free Songkran to occur, families should also play a role.

"Please teach your children to drive safely," he said while warning against drunk driving and splashing water on vehicles. Road accidents kill more than 23,000 people in Thailand each year.

Visanu Srithawongse, of the Stop Drink Network, said that alcohol producers never give compensation to victims killed or injured by drunk drivers.

"We in fact have found out that alcohol businesses have enjoyed much brisker trade during Songkran festivals," he said.

A survey by his network found that 78 per cent of 6,700 respondents want a ban on alcohol sales during festivals.


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