To try to combat the carnage on the country’s roads during the annual week-long traditional New Year’s holiday celebration, Thai authorities are going gory: Drink drivers and repeat traffic offenders may be sent to work in hospital morgues to see the fruits of their irresponsibility.
The Songkran holiday puts untold thousands of Thais on the road, returning to their home villages from the big cities to reunite with families and cut loose, with alcohol usually fuelling the festivities.
Much of the joyriding takes place on motorbikes, with little observance of helmet laws.
The government’s safety campaign appropriately calls the period — during which it is estimated 2.3 people die and 160 are injured every hour — “The Seven Days of Danger”.
Casual attitudes toward road safety give Thailand the second worst record in the world for traffic fatalities.
“Traffic offenders who are found guilty by courts will be sent to do public service work at morgues in hospitals,” said police colonel Kriangdej Jantarawong, deputy director of the special task planning division.
Anurak Amornpetchsathaporn, director of the emergency response for the Bureau of Public Health, said a stint in morgues may bring home the problem to reckless drivers in a way community service such as tidying parkshas failed to do.
“They should see the actual physical and mental damage,” he said.
“In the morgue, they will have to be cleaning up and transporting bodies, so that hopefully they would feel the pain, so that they may understand and attain a good conscience, so that it could be safer on the roads.”
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