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Road accidents kill 86 in first 2 days of holidays

Rescue workers tend to people injured in a car accident in Phitsanulok yesterday. Six people were injured in the crash after a speeding pickup crossed a traffic island and hit this sedan head-on.

Rescue workers tend to people injured in a car accident in Phitsanulok yesterday. Six people were injured in the crash after a speeding pickup crossed a traffic island and hit this sedan head-on.

Police say 474 road accidents killed 86 people and injured 885 between Friday and Saturday, the first two days of the so-called "seven dangerous days".

The road toll is expected to rise further over the coming days.

Yesterday, the Road Safety Centre released statistics from road accidents reported on Friday and Saturday only.

Drunk driving and speeding were the major causes of accidents during the opening days of the festive period, according to Department of Probation director-general Ruenvadee Suwanmong-kol, who chaired yesterday's press conference.

Reports say 37 per cent of road accidents resulted from drunk driving and 23 per cent from high-speed driving; while 81.5 per cent of road accidents involved motorcycles. Most of the motorcycle casualties were not wearing a helmet.

Main roads were the site of 61 per cent of the accidents and 34.6 per cent occurred on village roads. Highways saw 34.3 per cent of all accidents, most of which took place between 4pm and 8pm.

Some 611,600 cars and vehicles were inspected at police checkpoints and 100,587 cases resulted in arrests. Infractions included 31,020 drivers without a licence, and 28,092 motorcyclists without a helmet.

Nakhon Si Thammarat had the highest number of road accidents and number of injured people, with 23 and 25 respectively.

Ayutthaya had the highest number of deaths from road accidents, with five cases. Only four provinces recorded no road accidents during this period: Chaiyaphum, Bueng Kan, Rayong and Samut Songkhram.

Ruenvadee said the centre had ordered provincial authorities nationwide to help eliminate road accidents on main and secondary roads in the cities, especially near entertainment venues.

Police are urged to arrest those who drink and drive, drive at high speed, or ride motorcycles without a helmet.

The New Year holidays are associated with danger as millions of people hit the road on vacation or visits to home provinces.

Chutipong Sukarayotin, a player of the Thai national beach volleyball team, was driving to his home province of Udon Thani when he suddenly fell asleep behind the wheel in Nakhon Ratchasima yesterday morning.

His car slammed into a telephone booth.

"The crash woke me up," the 21-year-old man said.

He said he left Bangkok at about 5pm on Saturday but with the traffic jammed, the trip took so long he became tired and fell asleep.

"Fortunately, I had my safety belt on and my car had an air bag. So, I've survived," Chutipong said. "But I've learnt a lesson now.

"I’ll never drive the whole night again."

Police have charged Chutipong with reckless driving and causing damage to the property of others.




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