Road Deaths to Persist After Deadliest Holidays in Decade

On Jan. 2, 2017, Policemen and rescue officials at the scene of a collision in Chonburi where 25 people died.

BANGKOK — Fourteen more people died on average during each day of the holidays over last year, with drunk and speeding drivers blamed for the highest year-end death toll in 10 years.

One particularly horrible accident contributed to making the so-called Seven Dangerous Days, which ended Wednesday, the deadliest in a decade with 478 people killed, 4,128 injured in 3,919 road accidents. What often goes unmentioned is the fact those grim numbers are little different from the other 358 days of the year.

“The government focuses too much on the seven days,” Liviu Vedrasco of the World Health Organization said.  “Roads in Thailand are dangerous every day, not only seven. [The safety] improvement must be done by the government every single day.”

For Monday’s horrific highway collision which killed 25, Chonburi province won the dire distinction of having the most fatalities. Thirty-three people were killed in road accidents there. Udon Thani topped the other 75 provinces in road accidents with 146, according to statistics released Thursday by the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department.

Drunk driving and speeding driving were the top causes responsible for the traffic accidents at 36.6 percent and 31.3 percent, respectively. Last week saw an increase of 14 more people per day than the daily average the year prior, when 52.2 people on average died every day in a total 380 road deaths.

The New Year death toll was also the highest since 2007 when 449 people were killed.

Thailand has some of the world’s highest road fatality rates, and although government and media attention tends to be seasonal, the rest of the year is also deadly.

An average of 68.2 people died during the seven-day holiday period which began Dec. 29 and ran through Jan. 4. That compares to the 66.4 people killed every day in 2015, according to a WHO estimate, which said Thailand has won the race to the bottom with the world’s highest rate of road fatalities.

Although the numbers aren’t out yet for 2016, Vedrasco said it was on par with previous years with roughly 24,000 deaths.

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