SONGKRAN HIGHWAY TOLL
First two days claim 68 lives
Count is 32% lower than Road Safety Centre's prediction
A six-wheel truck blocks the road after colliding with a BMW sedan and crashing into the wall of Wachiravuj School opposite Dusit Zoo yesterday.
Sixty-eight people have died in road accidents across the country in the first two days of the long Songkran festival holiday. Chiang Mai has the highest toll with five deaths, according to the Road Safety Centre.
The number of road accidents on Saturday, the second day of the 10-day holiday period, totalled 445, in which 38 people were killed and 496 were injured.
The death toll was 32 per cent less than what the centre, which comes under the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, previously predicted.
For the first two days of the festival, the road accident toll has reached 731, resulting in 68 people being killed and 810 injured. The accident figure is 38 incidents, or 5.48 per cent, more than for the same time last year, caretaker Interior Minister Kongsak Wantana said.
The worst provinces for fatalities are Chiang Mai, Chachoengsao, Kanchanaburi, Phichit, Phetburi, Lop Buri and Si Sa Ket.
Most accidents happened on state highways while drunk-driving and speeding were listed by the centre as the main causes. It said 83 per cent of the accidents involved motorcycles.
Kongsak said police officers had stopped about 600,000 vehicles at the many checkpoints set up around the country and about 27,000 had received traffic citations. Most of the charges involved riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
In parts of the Northeast, police had set up alcohol checkpoints every 15 kilometres on main roads around the clock.
In total, 15,000 policemen from the region and 20,000 volunteers have been placed on duty to prevent crimes and reduce road accidents in risky areas. Local police commanders have been told not to leave their areas during the Songkran period.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya said if the government's stricter safety measures worked, he was certain the death toll would decline.
Tourist police officers yesterday were assigned to special patrols at tourism piers in Phuket and Phang Nga during the holidays to oversee tourist safety and prevent boating accidents.
Police stationed along the border areas have also been told to be especially vigilant about possible drug trafficking over the Songkran period.