Songkran water festivities – love it or hate it – it is very much part of Thailand’s New Year celebrations and as always, it has its good points and bad, often with the latter resulting in people dying.
It is a tough message delivered by one of several public service announcements being displayed before New Year, which traditionally sees an increase in road accidents and ultimately a rise in the death toll.
The “seven deadly days”, the days before, during and after the Songkran holiday period. The biggest killer on the roads is always caused by drunk driving, which will claim many lives, often of innocent people.
The deadly period began on Wednesday and fill come to an end on Tuesday next week.
Songkran is supposed to be a happy period, with water fights being the main focus point. Bars and their staff will be out with containers holding hundreds of litres of ice cold water, which will be thrown over passers by, in a tradition dating back many years.
But many take to the bars for shelter from the barrage of water and ultimately will leave under the influence of alcohol before getting on a motorbike or behind the wheel of a car.
Add water guns into the equation and you have a recipe for disaster as drunk bikers swerve to avoid being doused in water as they drive by, often resulting in accidents.
The nation’s roads are regarded as the deadliest in the world but when you increase the amount of drunk drivers on to the streets, there will only ever be one outcome.
Heartbreak will follow for many, who will lose friends and family to a drunk in charge of a vehicle and despite numerous safety campaigns, there has been no improvement over the years.
The Transport Ministry hope to see a reduction in accidents this New Year but emergency services doubt their campaigns will have any impact.
“These campaigns are quite isolated and mostly for show only,” said Marko Cunningham from the Bangkok Free Ambulance Service.
“Thai people know the laws and yet continue to break them,” he continued. “I have always said the main problem lies with enforcement.”
This of course is difficult to argue with.
Let us hope that common sense prevails and people will leave the car or bike at home.
Enjoy the hilarity and fun of Songkran but stay safe and let’s hope people do not lose their lives at the hands of drunk drivers.