Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Revamp 7-day campaign

The New Year is just under two weeks away, and after almost three years of living under Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, many people are expected to travel to celebrate. This will be the first time in a while that people will feel free to travel and enjoy life to the fullest without the fear of being infected with the coronavirus. Yet, it also means that more road accidents are expected, particularly on highways, rural roads, and in big cities.

As usual, the “Seven Dangerous Days” campaign will be launched to warn motorists that they should avoid drunk driving and speeding, two of the main causes of road accidents in the kingdom that result in deaths and injuries.

A similar seven-day monitoring campaign was launched around the 2021–2022 New Year period, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and during the 2018–2019 New Year period, before the outbreak of the disease.

It should be noted that — as statistics show — with or without the pandemic, the number of road accidents, fatalities, and injuries during these periods did not differ much.

The statistics show that on average, there were about 3,300 accidents during the seven-day period during the pandemic when compared to 3,800 accidents before the outbreak. Meanwhile, there were 372 fatalities for the 2021–2022 New Year period as opposed to 423 during the 2019–2020 New Year period.

Therefore, travel restrictions and lockdowns did not have much effect on the number of road accidents and the resulting fatalities and injuries.

Earlier this week, the Injury Prevention Division of the Disease Control Department released key information on road accidents in Thailand over the past five years from 2017–2021. It says that 96,230 people were killed, or an average of 19,286 each year. Economic losses in this period were estimated at more than 500 billion baht.

In a nutshell, the economic loss for each fatality was estimated to be 11 million baht for people in Bangkok and 6 million baht for people in the provinces. The figures were derived by calculating how much a working person potentially makes during the course of their life. Outside of that, one must also consider the damage to property, which is equally staggering.

While human error, such as drunk driving, speeding, and recklessness, has been blamed as the main cause of most accidents, lax enforcement of traffic laws should also be blamed for encouraging the bad habits of many drivers and their disregard for the law.

Jumping red lights, riding against the traffic and not stopping at zebra crossings are seen daily in Bangkok, with wrongdoers often escaping punishment scot-free.

The “Seven Dangerous Days” campaign, which is only launched around the New Year and Songkran periods, should immediately be reviewed and adjusted. Seven days may not be enough, and the campaign should be expanded to drive home the message to drivers that they can face stiff penalties for breaking the rules.

A more proactive approach should be adopted by the campaign, such as teaching students to remind parents to drive carefully and refrain from driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Village heads and community leaders should also get involved in the campaign, given the fact that many accidents involving motorcyclists take place along secondary roads in rural areas.

Act now and act fast. Hopefully, the coming New Year will be different from the previous one, with significantly fewer road accidents, fatalities, and injuries.

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