Road safety campaign launched as Songkran celebrants begin exodus out of capital

Government authorities launched road safety campaigns in an attempt to lower traffic fatalities during the long Songkran festival, the Thai traditional New Year, when an exodus of people started returning homed to celebrate with their families.

Motorway 7 and 9, Phaholyothin, Asia, Phetkasem highways were jammed with traffic late today although today is still a normal working day, but manychose to take leave to leave the capital for fear of worsened traffic jams expected from tomorrow.

Yesterday Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paochinda, in his capacity as the chairman and the director of the Road Safety Center, opened the Center for Road Accident Prevention and Reduction to strictly control traffic discipline of motorists during the long Songkran Thai New Year Holiday from April 11-17 when a large number of people will return to their hometown.

He ordered all provincial governors, district chiefs, village heads to raise awareness among the people to drive safely, to strictly follow traffic rules.

Checkpoints are set up and public service areas are now provided for tired drivers and travelers.

Water playing zones will be designated to ban alcohol drinks for the safety of the Songkran celebrants.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krue-ngam instructed policemen to provide safety to the public and relax some traffic rules when roads are packed with motorists and vehicles.

He suggested that people take a video clip if they find any police officer, demanding bribes from them during the Songkran festival.

Beginning today the law mandating all passengers vans to cut seats from 15 to 13 seats is in force.

The Ministry of Transport is confident that van operators will cooperate with the authorities to address the problem of over-packed passenger vans even though they will lose some income during the Songkran.

The ministry affirmed that it will not consider giving compensation to van operators as they requested.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)