Safer Songkran sparks new idea from Prayut

Safer Songkran sparks new idea from Prayut

Nearby residents gather to look at a pickup truck that had crashed into a roadside tree in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Thursday evening. (Photo by Nujaree Raekrun)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is considering revealing more details of traffic accident casualties during Songkran to hammer home the importance of safe driving over the holiday, when the death toll jumps significantly each year, according to the government.

A more powerful message is needed as simply listing the number of deaths and injuries does not seem to be having enough impact, government spokesman Lt Gen Sansern Kaewkammnerd quoted Gen Prayut as saying on Friday.

The premier wants complete details published showing the cause of accidents, as well as how many people were hurt or killed because they ignored the laws requiring them to wear helmets or use seat belts, he said.

Even though the number of accidents and injuries on the road has dipped slightly year-on-year, the death toll since Tuesday has risen compared to previous years despite the government launching a robust campaign against drink driving and imposing stricter traffic laws using Section 44 under the previous interim charter.

“All sides must work together to refresh people’s perception of [correct] driving behaviour,” Lt Gen Sansern said, adding the premier wants state agencies and academic institutions to join in.

When motorbike accidents occur, the public should be informed as to whether the victims were wearing crash helmets, Lt Gen Sansern said.

If a pickup is involved in a crash, it is important to mention whether it was carrying too many passengers in its cargo bed in violation of the law, he added.

The government earlier this month decided to roll back its ban on allowing people to travel in the truck’s rear space following fierce criticism of the law.

Even though it is considered dangerous, many Thais routinely travel in this way because it is cheap and convenient, especially over the “seven dangerous days” of Songkran.

Lt Gen Sansern said the government will work harder to curb the number of road accidents as the situation has barely changed over the past decade.

Thailand ranks world No.2 in terms of frequency of road accidents per capita, he said, a situation considered unacceptable by many in this fast-developing nation.

During the first three days of the state’s latest road safety campaign, the death toll on the roads has risen from last year, with motorcycle accidents topping the bill, according to permanent secretary for interior affairs Kritsada Bunrat. Many occurred on minor roads in villages rather than on highways or other major roads, he said.

Despite this unimpressive start, Mr Kritsada vowed officials will keep on campaigning for safer travel.

Authorities will crack down on drink drivers as well as those caught speeding, said Piyapong Klingpan, spokesman for the National Council for Peace and Order.

Meanwhile, the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand is playing its part to make Songkran safer by ramping up patrols and keeping an eye out for revellers who break the rules barring them from splashing people at subway stations.

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