A TOTAL of 283 people were killed and 3,087 others injured in 2,985 road accidents nationwide in the first five days of the so-called "seven dangerous days" of the Songkran holiday, the Road Safety Centre announced yesterday.
Many of the accidents resulted from drunk driving (45 per cent) and most crashes involved motorcycles (79 per cent).
The death toll was down by almost 17 per cent while the number of injuries and crashes rose compared to the same period during the previous Songkran when 338 deaths and 2,891 injuries were reported in 2,724 road accidents.
Highway Police Division chief Maj-General Somchai Kaosamran said that Nakhon Ratchasima was the province with the highest death toll, with 17 people killed during the five-day period, while Chiang Mai had both the highest number of accidents and injuries at 140 cases and 145 people respectively.
After five days during the road-accident monitoring period, nine provinces - Krabi, Narathiwat, Bung Kan, Phang Nga, Phuket, Mae Hong Son, Yala, Samut Songkhram and Amnat Charoen - reported no road deaths, while Chaiyaphum was the only one with no injuries related to road accidents.
Somchai also said 600 accidents (including 269 drunk driving incidents, 149 speeding cases and 88 crashes because a vehicle suddenly cutting in front of another) happened on Saturday alone, killing 53 people - 29 of whom died at the scene- and injur?ing 634 others.
Many accidents on Saturday stemmed from drunk driving at 45 per cent followed by speeding at 25 per cent. Saturday's road carnage mostly involved motorcycles (84 per cent), while 62 per cent occurred on straight sections of road, and 33 per cent took place between 4pm and 8pm, Somchai said.
Some 64,000 officials manning 2,041 checkpoints on Saturday cited 149,758 motorists for traffic violations - mostly for failing to wear a helmet (43,783 cases) and failing to present a driver's licence (38,540 cases), he said. In addition, 21,708 other checkpoints were set up and manned by 170,752 community officials.
Somchai also reported that public transport use as of Saturday was at 8.25 million passengers - a 2.8 per cent increase from the same period during the previous Songkran.
It was also reported at the event that officers, enforcing the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) order number 46/2558 to seize vehicles from drunk drivers, spurred legal action against 301,425 people for drunk driving over the first five days of the Songkran break.
They also impounded 3,969 motorcycles and 1,243 cars and public transport vehicles, and seized the licence of 14,170 drivers under the influence of alcohol.
Meanwhile, a recent poll by the ThaiHealth Promotion Foundation found that 3,218 respondents inter?viewed from April 1 to 14 had ranked the causes of motorcycle deaths as stemming from drunk driving (69 per cent), failure to wear a helmet (67 per cent), reckless or speeding driving (53 per cent), and running against traffic or making a U-turn in prohibited spot (52 per cent).
Respondents also urged the gov?ernment to set up special to strictly control motorcycles at areas around schools and universities (95.5 per cent), around industrial estates and business hubs (91 per cent), at roads running parallel to expressways (90 per cent), at entertainment venues (79 per cent) and community areas (79 per cent), at civil service complex centres (74.5 per cent), at various tourist attractions (69 per cent), and at state offices (63 per cent).
Bangkok-bound traffic on various highways was more congested with yesterday as holidaymakers started to head back to the capital.
Authorities manned checkpoints to check for traffic violations and set up rest stop tents for motorists to take a break or receive urgent mechanic services in an effort to prevent accidents.
Transport hubs were also crowded with travellers, many who were carrying souvenirs from the provinces such as rice and dried food to help cope with the capital's high living costs.