Fewer Accidents, but New Year Death Toll Rises

Fewer Accidents, but New Year Death Toll Rises
Fewer Accidents, but New Year Death Toll Rises

Though the number of road accidents is lower this year compared to the “seven dangerous days” last year, the death toll rose with drunk driving and speeding remain the key contributing factors in crashes and account for most of the arrests, says Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda.

The road death toll during the New Year holidays rose by 9.5% from last year to 463, even as the numbers of accidents and injuries fell. There were 40 more fatalities than last year and 15 less than the all-time record two years ago. From December 27th last year until Wednesday 2nd January, 3,791 road accidents took place, down 1.3% from last year’s levels, while 3,892 were hospitalised, down 2.8%, according to data from the Road Safety Directing Centre. The period, also known as the seven dangerous days, was designated to promote road safety for travel during the New Year holidays.

Nakhon Ratchasima, the gateway to the Northeast, saw the highest number of road fatalities (25) while Nakhon Si Thammarat of the South saw the highest numbers of accidents (118) and injuries (137). Four provinces reported no road fatalities — Tak, Phrae, Satun and Samut Songkhram. Drink driving remained the major cause of road deaths (40.4%), followed by speeding (28.3%). Motorcycles were most prone to accidents (80%), followed by pickup trucks (7%) and cars (4.1%). During the latest deadly week, 205 deaths were motorcycle riders who did not wear helmets. Some 1.2 million were prosecuted, up 34.3% from the previous year. The main charges were not wearing helmets, up 27.6% year-on-year to 321,800 cases, followed by driving without licenses, up 21.5% to 290,000. Meanwhile, a total of 5,164 vehicles were impounded nationwide over drinkdriving offenses between Dec 27 and Jan 2 under the road safety promotion campaign. Of the number, 3,859 were motorcycles and the rest were buses and cars.

A total of 8,312 driving licenses were also temporarily seized for drink driving and other unsafe driving cases. Interior Minister General Anupong said additional measures will be discussed to reduce the loss of life stemming from these factors, and more analysis will be done on hazardous highways, secondary roads and periods of the day. “Agencies will then have to assess whether the new measures are sufficient to lower the death toll or whether even more measur es are needed, such as promoting driver discipline or introducing harsher punishments,” he said. “We have to assess the effectiveness of the measures one by one. I will try to do this as soon as possible so we will be better prepared to handle the reasons that cause the most deaths year-round, not just during the festive season.” The latest report published by World Health Organization (WHO), reveals that Thailand has a newly revealed rate of 32.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2018, an improvement from 2015’s rate of 36.2, however the kingdom remains tops among Asian countries and a dispiriting sixth place globally.

The report contains data from 175 countries, estimates that an average of 22,491 people are killed on Thai roads each year. Among our Southeast Asian neighbors, Vietnam was next with a rate of 26.4 — more than six fewer deaths per 100,000 than Thailand — followed by Malaysia at 23.6. Singapore remains the safest country in the region with a rate of 2.8. Aside from Thailand, Venezuela and the tiny Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, the remainder of the top 10 is comprised of countries from sub-Saharan Africa. The report reveals that road traffic deaths continue to rise and have become the leading killer of people aged 5 to 29 years old globally. With an estimated 1.35 million deaths each year, more people now die from road traffic injuries than from HIV/ AIDS, tuberculosis or diarrhoeal diseases. “This report is a call for governments and partners to take much greater action to implement these measures,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu