The ministry’s Department of Disease Control’s Bureau of Epidemiology conducted a survey between 2005 and 2009 to study behaviour that can be linked to death and injury among teens. The study covered 234,483 teens between the ages of 16 and 17 studying at vocational colleges or high school.
It found that 50 per cent of deaths among youths could be put down to boozing, followed by confrontations (23 per cent) and drug abuse (19 per cent).
Permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry Dr Paijit Warachit also expressed concern about youths’ driving habits, especially after the study found most students drive motorcycles and only one in seven – 14 per cent – wore a helmet. Also, up to 14 per cent drank before driving, while only 23 per cent fastened their seatbelt while driving a car.
Paijit cited a survey done by the Thailand Accident Research Centre, saying most teens don’t bother wearing a helmet, especially at night. Reports from 30 central hospitals across the country showed most severely wounded patients were above the age of 15 and came in with head injuries caused by not wearing a helmet. On average, each patient spent about Bt16,000 on treatment.
“Car and motorcycle drivers should fasten their seatbelt or wear a helmet, regardless of whether they are travelling long or short distances,” he said.
The Public Health Ministry has declared 2011 as the year of wearing helmets, and will aim to enforce the law on all motorcyclists, especially teenagers. Parents were urged to get their children to wear a helmet.
THIRD OF LATET CRASHES |BLAMED ON DRUNK DRIVERS
A further 44 people were killed and 362 others injured as holiday-makers headed back to work on Monday.
The Road Safety Centre yesterday blamed drunk driving for 32 per cent of these accidents. Speed was the second most common cause, accounting for 22 per cent of crashes.
Casualties were highest in cases where victims failed to wear crash helmets and most of the accidents involved motorcycles. More than half the victims were of working age.
Phitsanulok saw the highest number of accidents on Monday with 18 crashes recorded, while Chiang Mai had the most deaths – four.
To date, only five provinces have been free of road accidents during the so-called “Seven Dangerous Days” of the New Year, which started on December 29. These provinces are Chaiyaphum, Nonthaburi, Yasothon, Sa Kaew and Sukhothai.
On Monday, checkpoints manned by the Road Safety Centre found 89,822 motorists on the roads without licences. And some 26,808 motorcyclists were nabbed for not wearing crash helmets.
Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department chief Wiboon Sanguanpong, who is also secretary of the Road Safety Centre, urged motorists yesterday to drive carefully and refrain from speeding.
“Respect traffic laws and be kind to other motorists,” was his advice.
Wiboon told drivers to avoid medicine that could induce drowsiness and to take a lot of rest before starting their trip. “If you feel exhausted, please stop at rest areas along the way,” he said.
In Lamphun, a tour bus crashed into two pickups yesterday morning, injuring 10 people. The accident took place on a road on the slope of Doi Khun Tan.