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Ruangsak Suwaree Spearheads Drunk Driving Reduction: A Triumph for Thai Road Safety During Songkran

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Imagine this: It’s the break of dawn, and the streets of Thailand start buzzing with an energy that’s as palpable as the thick, tropical air. Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, and the western New Year holidays beckon Thais far and wide to embark on a journey back to their roots, upcountry. This exodus, a spectacle of unity and joy, also marks a time when the roads of Thailand become a blurry frenzy of travelers. Yet, amid the excitement, a shadow looms — a spike in road accidents fueled by heavy traffic, a festivity-induced urgency to speed, and the unfortunate choice by some to drive under the intoxication of spirits rather than the spirit of the holiday.

But there’s a glimmer of hope shining through this ominous cloud. Ruangsak Suwaree, the unwavering Department director-general, recently unveiled a silver lining. According to him, the relentless efforts to curb drunk driving are starting to bear fruit. With a note of pride in his voice, Ruangsak announced a significant plummet in drunk driving incidents. Yes, you heard that right — a dramatic 32.3% drop from the previous year! In the same spell in 2023, the number dwindled to 5,869 reported cases, painting stripes of progress on the canvas of road safety.

Beyond alcohol, the vigilant eyes of the law caught 156 drivers red-handed, their judgment clouded by substances far removed from the innocent high of Songkran water fights. And then there were the daredevils, the three reckless drivers who mistook the roads for their personal Fast and Furious audition tapes.

The bustling metropolis of Bangkok, with its endless maze of streets and alleys, emerged as the unintentional victor in this dubious contest, recording a staggering 446 drunk driving cases. Hot on its heels were Nonthaburi and Samut Prakan, with 238 and 214 cases respectively, painting a picture of a challenge that remained all too real despite significant progress.

In an ambitious stroke of genius, Ruangsak and his team orchestrated a mammoth operation. Imagine a network of 162 checkpoints sprawling across the nation’s arteries, a testament to the department’s commitment not only to curb violations but also to extend a hand of goodwill — free drinking water for parched motorists, a small but meaningful gesture. Over the course of five days, a legion of 4,167 officials and volunteers manned these bastions of safety, embodying the spirit of Songkran by showering travelers not just with water, but with care.

Yet, the battle on the roads was far from over. The Ministry of Interior’s Road Safety Centre presented figures that were a stark reminder of the journey ahead. Between April 11 and 14 alone, a tapestry of 1,259 traffic accidents unfolded, claiming 162 souls and leaving behind 1,279 wounded hearts. Each number a story, each story a life touched by tragedy during a time meant for celebration.

So, as the dust settles on another Songkran and New Year’s celebration, the roads of Thailand whisper tales of joy, of sorrow, and of newfound hope. It’s a reminder that amidst the revelry, the responsibility of safeguarding lives rests on the shoulders of each one of us. With tireless champions like Ruangsak leading the charge, and each driver embracing a sense of duty, perhaps the future Songkrans will be remembered not for the shadows they cast on the roads, but for the light they bring into countless lives.


  1. TomH April 16, 2024

    Efforts like those led by Ruangsak Suwaree show that making a difference is possible with determined leadership. A 32.3% drop in drunk driving incidents is massive and should be a model for other countries struggling with similar issues.

    • JennyK April 16, 2024

      While the decrease in drunk driving cases is impressive, I can’t help but wonder about the overall impact. There were still over a thousand accidents with lives lost. How can we celebrate this as a victory?

      • TomH April 16, 2024

        It’s about progress, not perfection. The fight against drunk driving is ongoing, and while every life lost is a tragedy, a reduction in incidents means fewer families are suffering. It’s a step in the right direction.

    • BeRightBack April 16, 2024

      We also need to ask about the methods. Are checkpoints the best way to reduce drunk driving, or do they just inconvenience everyone?

      • SafetyFirst99 April 16, 2024

        Checkpoints are not just about catching drunk drivers but also about deterring drunk driving in the first place. Knowing there’s a high chance of getting caught can make people think twice before driving under the influence.

  2. ConcernedCitizen April 16, 2024

    I’m wary of celebrating too soon. A lot of these measures sound temporary. What’s being done to ensure these numbers keep going down in the long run?

    • OptimistPrime April 16, 2024

      It’s not just about the short-term crackdowns. Education and awareness campaigns are crucial for long-term change. Maybe more focus on those would help.

      • RealistRay April 16, 2024

        Education is key, but so is enforcement. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a complex problem that needs a multifaceted approach.

  3. BangkokLocal April 16, 2024

    As someone from Bangkok, seeing our city top the list of drunk driving cases is disheartening. But it’s also a wake-up call that we need to do better.

    • SamutPrakanResident April 16, 2024

      It’s a nationwide issue, not just Bangkok. We’re seeing similar challenges in Samut Prakan. It boils down to changing a culture of drinking and driving, which isn’t easy.

      • BangkokLocal April 16, 2024

        Absolutely, it’s a cultural shift that’s needed. Celebrations shouldn’t mean putting lives at risk. Hopefully, initiatives like Ruangsak’s can start to turn the tide.

  4. SkepticalSue April 16, 2024

    All these numbers are well and good, but how accurate are they really? Government departments have a history of embellishing success. I’d take these statistics with a grain of salt.

    • DataDude April 16, 2024

      It’s always worth questioning the source, but it’s also hard to fake a 32.3% decrease. Even if the numbers are a bit off, the direction is clearly positive.

      • SkepticalSue April 16, 2024

        Direction might be right, but without transparency, it’s hard to fully trust the impact. Wish there was more independent verification.

  5. Mike_T April 16, 2024

    Why just focus on drunk driving? The article mentions reckless drivers and those under the influence of other substances. Shouldn’t the efforts be all-encompassing rather than focusing on a single aspect?

    • HealthFirst April 16, 2024

      You’re right, Mike_T. A holistic approach to road safety is crucial. Addressing one issue while ignoring others won’t solve the overall problem.

      • Mike_T April 16, 2024

        Exactly. It takes a comprehensive strategy to make a real difference. Hope the authorities are considering this.

      • VisionZeroAdvocate April 16, 2024

        That’s the philosophy behind Vision Zero – no loss of life is acceptable. By tackling all aspects of road safety, we can aim for a future where traffic fatalities and serious injuries are eliminated.

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