Curbs on revellers
Unruly frolickers blamed for mayhem and carnage on the roads, blinding motorists with thoughtless water attacks
To prevent road accidents during the Songkran holidays next year, water-splashing will be allowed only on designated roads, the Interior Minister said yesterday.
Though many road accidents this year took place on secondary roads, many people were splashing water on main roads, making them prone to accidents, said Chidchai Vanasathidya, who has assumed the duties of caretaker Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
A meeting of the Cultural Ministry, Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department and local administrative organisations will be held after the holidays to designate roads for water-splashing throughout the country, Chidchai said. Alcohol and weapons will be banned on all roads designated for Songkran festivities, he said. Drunk driving was reported to be the major cause of accidents over the holiday, he added.
As Bangkok has Khao San Road for celebrating the water festival, other provinces have their own sites. In Khon Kaen residents celebrate the festival on Khao Niew Road.
Road accidents claimed 50 lives and injured 780 people on Friday, compared with 66 deaths on the corresponding day last year. Friday's accidents pushed the total for eight days to 393 deaths and 4,979 injuries, the Road Safety Centre said.
Anucha Mokkawes, secretary of the centre, said there were 699 accidents on Friday, compared to 669 on the eighth day of the festival last year.
After drunk driving, the main cause of accidents was speeding, Anucha said. About 86 per cent of the accidents involved motorcycles while 8 per cent involved pickups.
Phitsanulok had the highest death toll with 16 people killed in road accidents during the first eight days of the Songkran holiday. Next were Nakhon Ratchasima, Lopburi, Rayong, Songkhla, Surin and Chiang Mai with 15, 14, 13, 11, 11 and 10 deaths respectively, he said.
Dr Anusak Tangphaibul, director of Maharaj Hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima, said he had ordered more doctors and medical teams on standby for the next two days, when many people would be returning from their holidays. As the gateway to the Northeast, Nakhon Ratchasima is considered a danger spot for accidents.
Anusak said that in the first eight days of the holidays 163 people had been admitted to the hospital, 88 of them suffering serious head injuries. The number of patients requiring X-rays rose by about 30 to 40 cases a day, he said.
Prat Boonyawongwirot, acting permanent secretary at the Public Health Ministry, said the number of patients requiring brain operations due to motorcycle operations had risen to three or four a day in Chon Buri province alone during Songkran.