The move is part of a joint campaign by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), the Accident Prevention Network, and the Stop Drink Network.
The latter’s public policy manager Wisanu Srithawong said his organisation and ThaiHealth have been pushing for alcohol-free water-throwing zones during Songkran since 2006.
At last year’s festival over 3,200 such zones were set up at the order of the Interior Ministry, he said.
This year, cooperation will be sought from both the state and private sector to allocate more zones although the exact number remains unclear. This is to prevent young people from consuming alcohol during the festival and reduce road accidents, Mr Wisanu said.
Mr Wisanu said he was worried some Songkran events would be overrun by adverts for alcoholic beverages. The heavy promotional campaigns for beer and spirits increase drinking particularly among young people leading to more road fatalities.
“Society must work together to deal with the issue and create an environment that helps to protect young people,” he said.
ThaiHealth adviser Udomsil Srisangnam said since the number of road accidents is usually high during Songkran, ThaiHealth needs to ramp up its campaigns warning people about the danger of road accidents and what causes them.
During last year’s Songkran there were 3,690 road accidents resulting in 390 deaths and 3,808 injuries, according to Dr Udomsil. The major cause of the accidents was drink-driving (43%) followed by speeding (27%).
Prommin Kantiya, head of the Accident Prevention Network, urged local administrative organisations to do more to address road accidents. They should help instil in local children and youths a sense of road safety and educate them about traffic laws, he said.
Meanwhile, City Hall has announced that road safety and motorist service checkpoints will be up at 15 locations in 13 districts of Bangkok which cover the roads people mostly use when they are heading out to the provinces during the most important festival on the Thai calendar.
Surveillance cameras are being well-maintained in popular areas during the festival.
Provincial Police Region 8, which is in charge of the upper South, announced yesterday the results of their crime and drug suppression efforts from March 20-30 to ensure order is maintained ahead of the festival.
Commander Lt Gen Sorasak Yenprem said 161,894 speed pills (ya bah), 660.6 grams of crystal methamphetamine (ya ice), 14.6g of cannabis, 414g of Krathom leaves and 13 tablets of ecstasy were seized and 482 suspects apprehended.
This year’s Songkran holiday is longer and will run from April 12-16.
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