BANGKOK – Thailand’s Transport Ministry aims to reduce the number of road-related accidents and deaths by 7% during the annual “Seven Dangerous Days” of Songkran in April, Transport Ministry inspector Sarawut Songsivilai said.
He made the comments after meeting with transport authorities to settle safety precautions and accommodation issues for next month’s water-fueled festivities.
“From April 11-17 we will be increasing the number of checkpoints throughout the country, especially for public transport,” Mr Sarawut said. “This Songkran we have highlighted 77 routes as accident-prone areas.”
Among them, 47 will fall under the supervision of the Department of Highways (DOH) while the remaining 30 will be monitored by the Department of Rural Roads.
According to Transport Ministry reports, they comprise 11 roads in the northern region, 18 in the northeast, 21 in central Thailand, four in the east, seven in the west and 16 in the south.
Mr Sarawut said the ministry will also be using its “7-7-7” safety policy for the Songkran celebrations.
The policy, applied at the end of December as well as Songkran, refers to safety precautions observed seven days before, during and after the holiday period.
The proposed 7% reduction of road-related accident and death rates during this Songkran will be based on numbers from last year’s Songkran compiled by the Transport Ministry. “The ministry reported 390 deaths from Apr 11-17, 2017, with 3,690 accidents and 3,808 injuries occurring during the period.”
Some 61 routes were classified as accident-prone areas during the New Year period. The ministry expects 15.2 million people will make trips across the country during Songkran, down from last year’s estimated 16 million.
Mr Sarawut also said certain sections of five expressways and motorways will be toll-free from midnight on April 11 until April 18.
They include the Burapha Withi Expressway from Bang Na to Chon Buri, the tollway from Suvarnabhumi Airport to the Burapha Withi Expressway, and its link to the Kanchanaphisek Expressway from Bang Phli to Suksawat in Samut Prakan.
By Om Jotikasthira