Are The Songkran Road Casualties Actually Worth Reporting?

Firstly, the headline is in no way trying to disrespect all the people who have or will tragically lose their lives this Songkran. Of course they are more than simply statistics and many families will have a holiday they will sadly, never forget.

However, every year the authorities “target” the two new year periods in December and April in an attempt to lower the appalling death rate. But what about the rest of the year? It is almost impossible to get accurate monthly figures for the full year. All the figures concentrate solely on the new year holidays.

What we do know is that around 24,000 people are killed on Thai roads annually. This year it looks like around 1,000 will fall victim during those two holiday weeks. So that leaves another 23,000 during the remaining eleven and a half months.

That would support what many people already know, ie the authorities’ obsession with those holiday periods is doing nothing to lower the annual carnage. Proper policing on the roads is the only way to reduce it.

73% of fatalities are people on motorbikes so you don’t have to be a genius to know where to start. Sooner rather than later.

The death rate in Thailand is 36 per 100,000 people. In the UK it is 2.9 people per 100,000. That shows the true extent of the problem.

Speed is the biggest killer. The following is a quote from Ratana Winther, the country director for the US-based Asia Injury Prevention Foundation. “And people tend to go very fast. So the number one killer is speed.”

Police Sergeant-Major Kanthachat Nua-on can attest to that.

At a speed trap he had set up on a stretch of elevated expressway outside Bangkok, he watched car after car pass him at speeds well in excess of the 80km/h (50 mph) limit. He did not bother to ticket them.

“If we strictly follow what the law says, and issue a ticket for people driving over the speed limit, then we will end up booking everyone.” (So book everyone or at least a significant number !)

He booked just one car, travelling at 129km/h. But the fines are small, and more than half of those ticketed do not bother to pay, with little follow-up. And therein lies a major problem.

The Buriram Times will not be running articles this Songkran regarding how many people have seen their last one. We know the number will be high but it is not exactly going to come as a surprise. We extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of those who fall victim to accidents in the coming days. Let’s hope the number actually does fall.

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