Thailand’s roads claimed 364 lives over the 7-day Songkran holiday, with a further 3,559 people injured, the Road Safety Centre said Thursday. There were 42 more deaths this year than in 2014, making it the highest Songkran death toll since 2009, when 373 people were killed.
The figures, which were announced Thursday, come as a blow to the ruling military government, which has taken extra measures this year to improve public safety during the sometimes-raucous New Year’s holiday.
The Road Safety Centre said Thursday there were a total of 3,373 road accidents from April 9-15, the weeklong holiday period commonly known as “the 7 days of death” in Thailand.
Figures released a day earlier suggest that most of the deaths occurred in Surin province, while Surin and Phitsanulok had the most accidents.
In one of the worst accidents recorded, four people were killed and 13 people were injured in Surin Tuesday when a pick-up truck overturned.
The Bangkok Post reported: “Police said all were Surin natives travelling to throw water at other people along roads during the Songkran festival.”
Overloaded pick-up trucks are just one cause of the appalling road fatalities rate. The Nation reported Wednesday: “Police said most accidents stemmed from drunk driving at 47.15 per cent and speeding at 22.4 per cent, while a motorcycle was involved in most accidents (78 per cent).”
While Songkran is one of the deadliest times of the year, Thailand’s roads are notoriously dangerous all year round. A 2014 University of Michigan study ranked Thailand’s roads the 2nd most dangerous in the world with 44 road deaths per 100,000 people every year (5.1 percent of Thailand’s overall deaths). The same study said the world average is 18 deaths per 100,000 people.
The ruling junta took a number of measures to increase public safety during the celebrations, such as limiting sales and consumption of alcohol and issuing “seven values for safety” over Songkran. It failed, however, to address the biggest killer of all, making this one of the deadliest weeks on Thailand’s roads in the past decade:
SONGKRAN ROAD DEATHS – 2007 – 2015
2007: 361 deaths, 4,805 injuries and 4,274 accidents
2008: 368 deaths, 4,801 injuries and 4,243 accidents
2009: 373 deaths, 4,332 injuries and 3,977 accidents
2010: 361 deaths, 3,802 injuries and 3,516 accidents
2011: 271 deaths, 3,476 injuries and 3,215 accidents
2012: 320 deaths, 3,320 injuries and 3,129 accidents
2013: 321 deaths, 3,040 injuries and 2,828 accidents
2014: 322 deaths, 3,225 injuries and 2,992 accidents
2015: 364 deaths, 3,559 injuries and 3,373 accidents
For a detailed analysis of the reasons behind Thailand’s appalling road fatality rate, and some possible solutions, read James Austin’s article from March: Why are Thailand’s roads so dangerous?