new year in vientiane The Traffic Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security reported yesterday that over the three days of the Lao New Year holiday 23 people were killed in road accidents because they were driving while drunk.

The department noted that the total number of road accidents was slightly less than last year but the number of deaths recorded was exactly the same.

Department Director General, Lieutenant Colonel Khamthavai Phetouthai, told reporters that in 2012 there were 185 road accidents nationwide, killing 23 people and injuring 367 others over the three-day festival. This year there were 181 road accidents, resulting in 23 deaths and 330 people injured.

“Six people died in accidents in Champassak province, the highest number recorded there. Most of the incidents occurred in rural areas but we have to remember that the province is bordered by Cambodia and Thailand. Three people also died in accidents in Savannakhet and Attapeu provinces,” he added.

Lieutenant Colonel Khamthavai also said two people were killed in Vientiane. However, no lives were lost in the provinces of Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Bokeo, Luang Prabang and Xekong.

“Most people began partying at about 10am each morning and carried on until nighttime. Most of the accidents occurred when people were pretty drunk, at about 10pm or later. On behalf of the officials involved I would like to express our regrets to the victims and their families as well as thank everyone who worked with us to reduce the number of road accidents this year,” he said.

He explained that their activities were directed at motorists and involved groups who teamed up with officials to help the public understand the traffic regulations and other road safety issues.

“The number of road accidents was slightly fewer this New Year because government sectors partnered with businesses and international groups in a road safety campaign before and during the celebrations. Most of the problems occurred outside towns in rural areas which the campaign hadn’t accessed,” he said.

The traffic police department feels their campaign was successful given the accident numbers this year. They began the campaign in early April with the cooperation of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Handicap International and various local businesses.

Lieutenant Colonel Khamthavai promised to carry on this work and, in future, ensure that the road safety messages reached the rural areas as well.

Neighbouring countries who celebrate their New Year at the same time all have similar records when it comes to this unfortunate statistic. Cambodia suffered the most with 66 deaths and 305 injuries in 150 accidents which, in a population of 13.4 million, meant the loss of 0.00049 percent.

Laos came next with 181 accidents causing 23 deaths and 330 injuries out of a population of 6.6 million, meaning a loss of 0.00035 percent. Meanwhile Thailand with almost 1,500 accidents had 154 deaths and 1,601 injuries out of a population of 65.9 million, a loss of 0.00023 percent.

Lieutenant Colonel Khamthavai said they were unable to get statistics from Myanmar, which celebrates its New Year at the same time.

Source: Vientiane Times
By Souknilundon Southivongnorath
April 19, 2013