Road traffic accidents, drinking-driving, and their consequences in ASEAN


Over 90% of deaths from road traffic accidents occur in low-& middle-income countries. Six ASEAN countries have road-traffic fatality rates per 100,000 population (17.9 in Lao PDR, 19.6 in Cambodia, 20.4 in Myanmar, 22.5 in Malaysia, 30.6 in Vietnam, and 32.2 in Thailand) higher than the global average rate (16.7 per 100,000 population) in 2019 (The World Bank Group, 2022). The consequences of road traffic accidents can be injuries, property damages, deaths, and congestion, disruption, and delays to public transport. These lead to substantial economic losses to individuals, their families, and to nations as a whole.

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In Thailand, road accidents skyrocket during long holiday festivals, especially during the New Year and Songkran festivals. On average, the numbers of drink-driving accidents increase about 4-5 times during these festivals compared with the normal times.

Addressing drink-driving to save lives


Drink-driving or driving under the influence of alcohol is a key risk factor, accounting for 27% of all road injuries. Addressing drink-driving thus is a significant intervention that will save not only the lives of drivers but also, in many cases, innocent parties such as passengers and pedestrians. From the recent study, if countries address drink-driving, it will save at least 16,304 lives globally, 652 lives in Thailand, and 489 lives in Myanmar (Vecino-ortiz et. al.,2002)


Source : Vecino-ortiz et. al. (2002)

What ASEAN countries could do?

WHO SAFER initiative suggests measures for governments to  counter drink-driving effectively (World Health Organization, n.d). For instance 

  • blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) limits can be established and restricted (with lower limits for novice and professional drivers);

  • sobriety checkpoints, random breath-testing, administrative suspension of licenses, graduated driving licenses for novice drivers and ignition interlocks are effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving; and

  • other complementary measures include mandatory driver education, provision of alternative transportation, counseling and, as appropriate, treatment programes for repeat offenders and carefully planned, high-intensity and well-executed mass media   campaigns.


Apart from above suggested interventions, here are some promising initiatives and community interventions that would be working in reducing drink-driving injuries and alcohol consumption at the same time in ASEAN context.

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Community checkpoints:

In Thailand, there are many road safety measures and campaigns conducted by muti-sectors. Community checkpoints are among the most effective measurements for preventing road accidents, especially in the rural areas when the local festivals take places. Community checkpoint is usually set up by close collaborations among Subdistrict Administrative Organizations (SAO), Village Headman, Village Health Volunteer, etc. sectors. It plays crucial roles in reducing not only drink-drinking, but all kinds of violence and injuries and promoting community safety. 


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The Anti-Drink Drive Campaign 2021.  This campaign had been launched by The Traffic Police (TP), and the Singapore Road Safety Council (SRSC) for raising awareness of the ills of drink-driving and to encourage road users to be responsible. This year, they launched the sub-campaign “Drink or Drive, You Decide” for encouraging motorists to choose only one choice between drinking or driving.

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Theertham Wutthiwatchaikaew (Writer)

Theertham Wutthiwatchaikaew (Writer)

An academician for Stop Drink Network, a civil society organization in Thailand, a Ph.D. student in the Development and Sustainability Program at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). I am interested in community development, public policy, human resource development, alcohol-free promotion, road accidents caused by drink-driving, SDGs, etc.
Let’s make a beautiful world together.

Apichaya Yenjai (Editor)

Apichaya Yenjai (Editor)

Plan to build a different future and seek to develop herself consistently through various kinds of activities

Orratai Waleewong (Advisor)

Orratai Waleewong (Advisor)

Researcher at International Health Policy Program (IHPP), Thailand

 Works Cited

National Statistical Office of Thailand, & Royal Thai Police. (n.d). The Situation of Traffic Accident Cause of the Accident by a Person and Environment Causes of the Equipment Used in Driving, Whole Kingdom: 2006 – 2015.

The World Bank Group. (2022). Mortality caused by road traffic injury (per 100,000 population).

The Road Safety Thailand. (2020).  Annual Report 2020.

Vecino-ortiz, A. I., Nagarajan, M., Elaraby, S., Guzman-tordecilla, D. N., Paichadze, N., & Hyder, A. A. (2022). Series Road Safety 2022 2 Saving lives through road safety risk factor interventions : global and national estimates. The Lancet, 400(10347), 237–250.

World Health Organization. (2019). The SAFER technical package.


World Health Organization. (n.d). Advance and enforce drink driving counter measures.


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