Thailand, the country in which nice, generous, easy going people turn into suicidal maniacs when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is well known that Thailand has some of the most dangerous roads in the world with 38.1 deaths per 100,000 people per year. Compare to 11.6 per 100,000 for the United States and much lower for several European countries. For Songkran, the Thai government has a road safety campaign called the “7 Deadly Days” in which they release accident statistics every day and the media loves reporting on them. The numbers change a little every year but average around 340 deaths over 7 days or 49 per day.
Every year there are about 25,500 deaths on the Thai roads or 70 per day. So perhaps the safety campaign is working. But it’s also widely suspected that accidents and deaths are under reported presumably to save face and the statistics do not include people who might die in the hospital a few days later. The main cause of these accidents is drunk driving and speeding. Most accidents are involving a motorcycle. I still struggle to understand why this behavior is tolerated by the population. I also do not understand the lack of enforcement of the laws here. To be clear, by lack of enforcement I mean zero enforcement. The government and police don’t seem to actually care but don’t they know they could make a lot of money by ticketing speeders and people not wearing helmets?
So, there’s a lot of people dying and getting hurt during Songkran which makes it not a lot of fun. There is also extremely rude inconsiderate and dangerous behavior by a good portion of the population. People will throw water on you when you ask them not to. People like to throw ice water and throw water after the sun sets. If you’re on the motorcycle people will drench the rider with 2 or 3 gallons of water and when throwing these large buckets of water they aim for your face. It seems like they are actually trying to cause an accident. Having a picnic lunch? You and your food will get drenched. I asked some Thai people if they enjoy being on the receiving end of this. Everybody said no. But nobody does anything about it. Again I am left struggling to understand why this sort of behavior is tolerated.
I haven’t decided yet if I will come home when my year is up or stay for a second year. One thing is for sure, if I am still here next year I will not be leaving my room during Songkran.
Stay tuned. Songkran wasn’t all misery. In a day or two I will write a post on the things I enjoyed about it.