As up to 8.4 million automobiles are expected to be leaving and passing Bangkok for upcountry on four major highways during this long New Year holidays, starting today, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Public Health have jointly rolled out several road safety measures in their bids to lower road fatalities and accidents.
They aimed to cut death toll from road accidents by 5% from last year’s 478 deaths to 463 deaths during the 7-day period described as dangerous week from December 28 to January 3 next year.
According to the Road Safety Centre, 3,919 accidents occurred during the 7-day dangerous week from December 29, 2016 and January 4, 2017.
Among several safety measures is the implementation of alcohol blood level testing to help verify drink driving cases.
Public Health Minister Dr Piyasakon Sakonladtayatorn said the ministry would implement several measures to lower the number of road accidents for the 2018 New Year Celebrations.
Apart from breathalyzer tests, he said testing blood alcohol levels will also be conducted at accident sites in order to verify drink driving cases.
He said if the debut run during the holiday season proves effective there is the possibility of extending this as standard procedure.
Likewise, the Ministry of Transport has launched the Safe New Year Travels, and Transportation Cares campaign under its “777” strategy which incorporate 7 Days of implementing safety measures during the 7 Days of the main travel dates and the 7 Days after the holiday season which are between January 4-10 next year.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said he hoped to lower road accidents in general by 5% and zero road accidents for public transportation.
Public transport drivers will be restricted from driving at more than 90 kilimetres an hour on roads with high accident rates. All drivers are requested to drive with their headlights on during daytime, he said.
The number of people expected to travel upcountry this year is expected to be higher than other years with an estimated 8.4 million vehicles on road ways, 1.5% higher from last year.
Meanwhile the military junta will continue with its “No Drink Driving, Vehicles Will Be Impounded” campaign where anyone found to be drinking under the influence of alcohol will be arrested and their cars impounded immediately.
Vehicle owners will only be able to retrieve their cars after the New Year holidays.
According to the Road Safety Centre, its three year road accident analysis for the New Year holidays period between 2015 and 2017 revealed that road accident numbers are on the rise.
The number of recorded road accidents in 2015 was 2,997 while 2016 figures were 3,379 and 2017 was 3,919.
Casualty numbers from road related accidents for 2015 was 3,117 while in 2016 it was 2,505 and 2017 figures were 4,128.
Mortality figures are also worrying with 341 fatalities in 2015, 380 in 2016 and 478 in 2017.
It said road accidents during the New Year holidays between 2015 and 2017 averaged at 490 cases with 512 injuries and 57 deaths a day.