Forty-two killed, more than 400 injured on first day of holiday
Forty-two people were killed and 432 injured in 420 road accidents on the first of New Year holiday period’s “seven dangerous days” (December 27-January 2), the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department’s Road Safety Centre (Thai RSC) reported on Friday.
Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat told a press conference at the Thai RSC that Chiang Mai and Ratchaburi reported the highest number of road accidents with 19 cases each, while Khon Kaen and Lop Buri cited the most fatalities with four deaths each. Chiang Mai had the highest number of casualties with 20 injuries.
The major causes of accidents were drunk driving (37.62 per cent), followed by speeding (21.19 per cent). Of the accidents, 79.95 per cent involved motorcycles and most of the crashes took place on highways (39.29 per cent).
Some 2,042 checkpoints were manned by 53,239 officials around the country, with 114,177 violations recorded. A total of 30,923 motorists failed to produce a licence; 34,165 motorcyclists were stopped for riding without helmets and 14,411 drivers were stopped for failing to wear seat belts.
Roads to the Northeast and the North were congested on Friday as people headed home for the New Year break. Highway Number 304 (Kabin Buri-Pak Thong Chai) reported three heavily-jammed sections – Thung Pho, Khao Plu Heeb and Huai Thab Mon – with vehicles were crawling bumper to bumper along stretches ranging in length from 5km to 10km. Besides opening extra lanes to alleviate the congestion as needed, some police personnel took to singing and dancing – as well as handing out drinking water and snacks – at a roadside spot near Khao Khiew Military Camp in Prachin Buri’s Nadi district to entertain the passing drivers.
Meanwhile, Probation Department chief Prasarn Mahaleetrakul said Thai courts had on December 27 ordered traffic law violators in 514 cases to be on probation - nine drunk drivers among whom were ordered to wear Electronic Monitoring (EM) devices and banned from going out at night during 10pm-4am for 15 days. The nine drunk drivers also were told to do 24 hours of social services, and saw their driver's licences suspended for six months. Of the 313 drunk driving cases (among the 514 above-mentioned cases), Bangkok had the highest share at 60 cases followed by Maha Sarakham at 40 cases and Ubon Ratchathani at 33 cases.