This New Year holiday period, Thai law officials will again be temporarily seizing the driving license and vehicle of anyone caught driving drunk, as part of efforts to reduce road accidents and deaths over the break.
The same measure was implemented during the last New Year holiday break, resulting in a total of 4,052 vehicles including 3,032 motorcycles being seized from drunk drivers between 25 December 2015 and 3 January 2016, according to a report from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The number of licenses seized would have corresponded to the number of vehicles taken away.
The seizure measure was also used over the Songkran Thai New Year holiday period in mid April 2016, with authorities seizing 6,613 motorcycles, cars and pickups due to drunk driving.
“There was talk during the year of preparations to have the vehicle seizure measure made a permanent Thai law, with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan quoted in the media as saying he would ask the National Legislative Assembly to expedite the case for this”, noted Apisakdi Kongkangwanchoke, the spokesman for an international law firm in Thailand, BSA Law.
Established over 30 years ago, BSA Law provides a range of legal and financial services to the Thai and foreign communities. Its areas of expertise include Thai law in general, Thai labour law, corporate law, contracts, property, intellectual property, tax consulting, accounting and auditing, insurance, investment, visa and Thailand work permit matters and how to go about starting a business in Thailand.
Another of Thailand’s initiatives aimed at curbing road accidents took the approach of showing drunk drivers the consequences of their actions. After the 2016 Songkran holiday, groups of arrested drunk drivers were escorted on tours to morgues in several provinces and also taken to witness the suffering of injury victims, as well as to hear stories from prison inmates locked up for driving offences.
The consumption of alcohol remains a major cause of road casualties in Thailand, along with speeding. From 11 to 17 April 2016 – the so-called ‘seven dangerous days’ of Songkran – there were as many as 3,447 road accidents across the country, with some 442 people killed and 3,656 others injured. Statistics showed drunk driving accounted for 34 per cent of accidents and speeding for 33 per cent.
The ‘seven deadly days’ of the 2016 New Year holiday period claimed 380 road deaths and saw over 3,000 others injured. Statistics put the blame on drunk driving for 24 per cent and on speeding for just over 17 per cent of accidents.
Being the first day of this seven day monitoring period for the 2017 New Year holiday, Thursday 29 December 2016 saw the Ministry of Interior open its road accident prevention and reduction centre. Interior Minister Anupong Paochinda as he presided over the centre’s opening urged holiday drivers to refrain from drinking alcohol and to follow traffic rules.
Working under the concept this year of ‘Thoughtful Driving, Adherence to Traffic Laws’, the centre is operating from 29 December to 4 January 2017 during which, Anupong assured, officials would work to their utmost to ensure safety for all travellers.
The ‘1 Locality, 1 Safe Road’ approach is a program being used by the ministry, in which local administrations work to ensure absolute safety on one road in their jurisdiction, including addressing any causes for danger and accident-prone areas such as rail crossings and road intersections.