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How to make Songkran and our highways safer

There were 322 needless highway fatalities this past Songkran weekend, just one less than last year's toll. We have the dubious "honour" of having the second highest highway deaths in the world (on a per capita basis).

The police are NATO (No Action, Talk Only) when it comes to saving these lives. Lowering fatalities would be easy, for, as usual, the leading cause was driving under the influence of alcohol (37 per cent), followed by speeding (24 per cent). As usual, the vast majority of vehicles involved was motorcycles (79 per cent), followed by pickups (11 per cent). And, 33 per cent of accidents occurred between 4pm and 8pm.

I suggest forming flying squads of deputised volunteers under command of regular traffic cops, armed with breath analysers and speed-trap equipment, to rove local and main roads during the holiday season and weekends. Maximum fines (with receipts) for DUI, speeding, lack of helmets/licences, etc. would be collected on the spot, plus a mandatory night in jail and a week of community service in the nearest emergency room handling road accident victims, or the maximum as allowed by law. Half of the fines would go to flying squad members, so that the squads won't cost taxpayers anything. Groups lacking enough breathalysers could have suspects who challenge the fines blow into balloons, for analysis at the police station.

To prevent DUI, we should adapt tactics of Mothers Against Drunken Driving, et al against DUI, eg, teaching students about the dangers of underage drinking; working with legal societies to make accident victims aware of their legal rights for redress, or encouraging police to enforce laws against underage drinking, including closure of bars. The media should keep the spotlight on how major traffic-related cases are progressing, eg, the 2012 case where Red Bull heir Vorayuth Yoovidhya allegedly killed a cop with his Ferrari and dragging him 200 metres - yet got off the hook for speeding and evidently hasn't spent even a night in jail.

Let's make our highways safer for your children and mine.

Burin Kantabutra

Bangkok


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