Forty-six people were killed on the first day of what the media dubs the “seven dangerous days” of Songkran, according to a road safety organization.
The Road Safety Center reported that yesterday’s 468 road accidents also injured 482 people, an uptick from the same period a year prior when it said 39 people were killed and 461 injured.
Those numbers are only based on fatalities reported at the scene and not the many who die later at the hospital. For example, the center’s report of 10,408 deaths in 2018 was less than half of the WHO’s most recent and credible estimate of 22,491 in 2016.
Thailand’s roads are perilous on any given day, and despite shrill media scrutiny and safety campaigns, the low-ball number of 46 killed Thursday is unlikely to be much higher than any other Thursday. The WHO says about 60 people die on average daily.
However you slice it, that’s still more dead bodies ringing in the new year. The provinces with the most accidents were Chiang Mai and Lampang with 19 each, followed by 17 in Nakhon Ratchasima. Drunk driving and speeding were the biggest causes; the majority of incidents involved motorcycles.
The Thai New Year of Songkran is a joyous occasion when many travel to their hometowns to spend time with family while herds of tourists pour in to partake in the (in)famous nationwide water-fighting festivities.
More people on the roads, more partying, more drinking and lax enforcement of traffic laws translates into more accidents. Twice a year, the media closely follows the “seven dangerous days” during the international New Year’s and Songkran, which this year runs April 11-17.
Last year, there were 3,724 road accidents with 418 fatalities and 3,897 injuries reported. That was a bump up from 2017, when 390 people died during a comparable period.
The asphalt ran the reddest in over a decade in 2016, when the death toll hit 442 during the Songkran period.
Though more accidents may occur during the holidays, Thai roads are dangerous year-round. A December report by the World Health Organization found the grisly butcher’s bill topped all Asian countries and came in a dispiriting sixth place globally.
Though it estimated an average 22,491 people die on Thai roads annually, the leading domestic monitor recorded only 10,408 killed in 2018.
So have fun out there, Coconauts, but stay safe – and if you’re interested in learning more about holiday road accidents, check out Coconut TV’s short documentary on the 7 Dangerous Days of Songkran, when Thailand becomes arguably the most dangerous place on Earth to be on the road.
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