Road deaths in Thailand fall during royal funeral
Number of road accidents falls to 50 below the daily average
By Kornchanok Raksaseri
Fewer road deaths and injuries were recorded last Thursday when the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was cremated amid an elaborate five-day royal funeral ceremony, a road safety advocate in Thailand said.
Sixteen people died as a result of road accidents on October 26, much lower than the daily average, according to statistics provided by the Accident Data Centre of Thailand (Thai RSC).
The average was estimated at 66 a day, or 24,000 a year, according to the World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015.
This would give Thailand the world’s second-highest road traffic fatality rate of 36.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Thanapong Jinvong, programme manager at Road Safety Group Thailand, said although there was no prohibition on drinking alcohol during the period, the fact that people refrained from partying led to lower fatalities.
Some 57 people died on October 24, and 35 died on October 25 due to the nation’s dangerous roads, figures show. After cremation day, 32 people died on Friday and 18 died on Saturday.
“People travelled a lot on [Thursday] but most of them did not celebrate or party so they drank less and there were fewer accidents. They were also fewer fatigued drivers on the roads,” Dr Thanapong said.
“Drivers and commuters were probably more mindful than on other days, and they may have been in a more considerate and forgiving mood to other motorists,” he said.
‘‘Imagine if road users exercised that kind of mindfulness year-round. We would be able to reduce the number of fatalities from road accidents and increase road safety,” he added.
The Thai RSC recorded 2,844 injuries on October 24, 2,756 on October 25 but just 1,849 on October 26. The number rose to 2,862 on Friday and 2,137 on Saturday.
Dr Thanapong said the higher number on Tuesday likely resulted from all the traffic and tailbacks following the previous three-day weekend, which included King Chulalongkorn memorial day.
Kunnawee Kanitpong, director of the Thailand Accident Research Centre, said Thursday was an exceptional day as it was declared a public holiday, with fewer people travelling long distances and many shops closed. Much of the nation ground to a halt to pay respect to the late King.