“According to statistics, Phuket road deaths are most often caused by drunk driving, speeding and ignoring traffic lights,” Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen told The Phuket News this week.
Extra vigilance has been ordered during the annual Seven Days of Danger road-safety campaign for the Songkran holidays, which this year began at midnight Wednesday (00:01 hours, April 11) and will conclude at midnight next Tuesday (24:00 hours, April 17).
“I have ordered police officers on the island to make sure traffic laws are fully enforced, especially regarding drunk driving,” Gen Teeraphol said.
“We have been specifically targeting drunk drivers since March and will be even more stringent during Songkran, when having fun is likely to paired with alcohol,” he added.
According to the Phuket Provincial Police statistics released only last week that Gen Teeraphol was referring to, Phuket last year suffered a more-than-30% increase in the number of people killed in road accidents, rising from 102 deaths in 2016 to 134 in 2017.
That number includes those who died as the results of their injuries within 30 days of the accident, not just those dead at the scene, The Phuket News was told.
However, it has yet to be explained why the police statistics give 102 deaths for 2016, when the “RTDDI: Road Traffic Death Data Integration” hosted on the Ministry of Public Health website – and carrying the Royal Thai Police logo, presumably to assert that statistics created by the Royal Thai Police in Phuket were used in compiling that data – gives the number of deaths in road accidents in Phuket for 2016 as 143 – literally 40% higher than what police are reporting now. (See RTDDI website here.)
Regardless, the same Provincial Police statistics shows that the number of people seriously injured in road accidents in Phuket last year also jumped, by 102, from 163 in 2016 to to 265 in 2017 – a staggering increase of more than 62%.
The good news, if it could be called that, is that the number of people suffering minor injuries in road accidents in Phuket remained relatively static, rising from 5,754 in 2016 to 5,882 in 2017 (+2.2%).
More pertinent from the recently released statistics is the identification of 13 road-accident “black spots” on the island, for which police will coordinate with other agencies in order to reduce the sheer number of accidents at those locations.
“We will coordinate with other departments involved in road safety, such as the Phuket Highways Office, to make sure that these ‘high-risk areas’ are taken care of,” Gen Teeraphol explained.
We will also work with the Phuket Land Transportation Office to check on public transportation vehicles,” he added.
Further, the scope of the campaign will be broadened. “In addition to traffic laws, we will also enforce alcohol-control laws to make sure road accident statistics are reduced. Sometimes people do not follow the laws, what we do is we show them how it works and what cost to pay when they break it,” Gen Teeraphol said.
Orachon Attaweelap, technical expert of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) and also head of road accident prevention project supporting plans, which is part of Phuket network for decreasing road accidents, confirmed that in the past three years young people aged 15-20 and “people of working age” aged 21-30 comprised most of the victims being killed on Phuket’s roads.
Some 80% of those who died were riding motorbikes when they were involved in fatal collisions, and 90% of those who died while riding motorbikes were not wearing helmets at the time of their accidents, Ms Orachon noted.
After Phuket suffered four deaths and 70 injuries in 67 accidents during the Songkran “Seven Days of Danger” road-safety campaign last year, Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong vowed to take action to correct Phuket motorists’ wild driving habits in the hope of reducing the death and carnage on the island’s roads.
Although the Governor has not set targets for this year, he noted, “I have made myself clear to all officials that rescue or help must be provided to the victims as fast as possible.”
Further, Gov Norraphat last week laid down a six-point campaign to improve safety during Songkran, as follows;
• To strictly enforce the law by setting up checkpoints.
• Ask for a cooperation from contractors to urgently fix roads before Songkran. If repairs are not finished, warning signs must be set.
• To set up measures and/or guidelines to control public transport and taxis, as well as drivers and staff. • Also to check (public transport) vehicles.
• To prepare emergency medical services.
• To set up marine operation centres and to check piers.
• To decrease any “environmental dangers” by checking for hazards on or beside roads
As such, Phuket Provincial Police this week announced they will set up checkpoints across the island for the duration of the seven days.
Four main checkpoints along with 10 service “rest points” will be set up in Muang District, with three main police checkpoints, five smaller police checkpoints and three “service points” set up throughout Kathu, will includes Patong and Kamala.
Thalang District will be host to four main police checkpoints, seven minor police checkpoints and three service points.