BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - In just the first two days of the Songkran holiday's "seven-day dangerous period" from April 11-17, 99 people have been killed in traffic accidents, with another 1,085 injured.
The road accident count for the beginning days of this year's notorious Songkran period have increased compared to the same period last year, while nearly 60,000 drunk drivers were arrested by the end of the second day of strict road safety monitoring.
The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department's Road Safety Centre on Friday (April 13) reported a total 1,026 road accidents occurred during the first two of the "seven dangerous days", leaving 1,085 people injured and 99 killed.
It was found that the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths on the road has increased this year, since on the second day of the 2017 Songkran holiday's seven dangerous days there were 994 accidents, 1,035 injured people, and 95 deaths.
The extended celebrations for the Songkran Festival have been blamed for an increase in road accidents
The director of the Academic Centre for Road Safety, Thanapong Jinvong, pointed out that the increased rate of accidents was because people tend to celebrate for a longer period, adding to the official three days, resulting in more accidents from drunk driving.
"Observation of people's travel behaviour during recent years reveals that they tend to leave Bangkok earlier and have longer periods to celebrate Songkran at their homes," Thanapong said.
"Therefore we can see that the peak day for road accidents, which is usually the first day of Songkran celebrations on April 13, has shifted to a day earlier - April 12 - as many people reached their homes and start the celebrations earlier."
National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) deputy spokesman Colonel Sirichan Ngathong said that road travel was still far from safe, with officers finding 56,051 people driving dangerously or drunk while driving on day two of the operation to suppress drunk driving.
Sirichan said that 32,592 of those cases involved motorcyclists. Officers have seized 835 motorcycles and total confiscated 356 motorcycle driving licences.
The remaining 23,459 cases involved private cars or public vehicles, leading to 494 seized cars and 1,741 confiscated driver's licences.
At the conclusion of the overall operation for the first two days, there were 59,390 cases of reckless driving, with 38,546 sent to court and 1,475 vehicles seized.