PM chairs Songkran safety meeting

Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Thursday morning chaired a meeting of the national committee on prevention and reduction of road accidents ahead of the Songkran festival holiday.

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The meeting, at the Interior Ministry's Registration Administration Office at Khlong 9 in Lam Luk Ka district of Pathum Thani province, was attended by representatives from the Interior, Transport, Justice, Public Health and Education ministries. It was called to lay down measures to reduce road accidents during the Songkran holidays from April 11 to 17 when a large number of people return to their home provinces for celebrations and family reunions.

Chatchai Promlert, director-general of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department, said the meeting agreed to set up centres to cope with road accidents at the central, provincial and district levels.

He said World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations statistics show an average 1.3 million people worldwide die each year in road accidents.  Thailand's average road death toll is 13,000 people per year, or about 1,000 per month or 33 per day.

During Songkran the death toll rises to 40-50 per day.  The government has resolved to make this issue a national agenda, Mr Chatchai said.

Ms Yingluck said the Interior Ministry will be the centre, coordinating with other agencies, mainly the Transport Ministry and Royal Thai Police Office, to prevent accidents happening.

Cooperation from the private sector, such as foundations and non-governmental organisations, will be sought, she said.

The prime minister placed emphasis on safe driving, arrangements for safety zones for Songkran revellers to splash water and enjoy entertainment, and strict enforcement of bans on alcoholic drinks.

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