COUNTING THE COST OF SONGKRAN
Festival lives up to its grim reputation for road carnage
Phitsanulok has most accidents with 20 killed
Revellers taking part in the ‘Bang Saen Belated Songkran Celebration’ throw water at one another on Sukhumvit Road near Chon Buri’s Bang Saen Beach, backing up traffic for kilometres.
The road toll during the 10-day Songkran holiday was 476 deaths and 5,985 injuries, with Phitsanulok seeing the highest number of deaths at 20, caretaker Interior Minister ACM Kongsak Wantana said yesterday.
On Sunday alone, the last day of the April 7-16 holiday, 386 accidents killed 35 people and hurt 452, Kongsak said, with drunk driving being the number one cause, followed by speeding.
Most accidents involved motorcycles, occurred on straight stretches of highway and took place between 4pm and 8pm, he said.
The overall death toll of 476 was down 46 from last year's Songkran. Total injuries, at 5,985, were down 153, Kongsak said. There were 5,327 accidents, down 325, he said.
The five provinces with the highest death tolls were Phitsanulok (20), Chiang Mai (17), Nakhon Ratchasima (16), Lop Buri (15) and Rayong (14), Kongsak said.
Nakhon Ratchasima, which was at the top of the list on several days during the holiday and has seen the highest death toll in previous years, reported 16 deaths. The figure was disputed by some because it did not include two men killed in a road accident in Pak Chong district at 11.45pm on April 13, an observer said. Only Phrae, Ranong and Samut Songkhram were casualty-free.
Of the 18 provinces that surpassed their pre-Songkran death toll estimates, the 10 worst were Phitsanulok, Uthai Thani, Lop Buri, Sa Kaew, Tak, Rayong, Phang Nga, Phattalung, Uttaradit and Chumphon, in that order.
Chiang Rai reported the most accidents throughout the period with 223, followed by Phitsanulok and Chiang Mai, each with 191. Chiang Rai also had the highest number of injuries with 228, followed by Phitsanulok, Chiang Mai and Si Sa Ket, Kongsak said.
The nationwide police checkpoints stopped 825,952 vehicles and charged 34,300 motorists, mostly for failing to present a driving licence, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, and reckless driving, in that order, Kongsak said.
Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya yesterday thanked police officers, public officials and motorists for their help in reducing the long holiday's casualty toll. Although the toll remained under the pre-holiday projection, the number of casualties was still quite high, he said. Yesterday, 13 people were injured when a taxi rear-ended their pickup truck, causing it to hit a roadside pylon at 3.45am on Bangkok's outbound Vibhavadi Road.