A group of anti-drunk driving activists and victims petitioned the Thai government to cancel its plan to extend the closing hours for entertainment businesses.
On Thursday, October 12th, members of the Drink No Drive group, consisting of activists and drunk-driving victims and their families, gathered at the Prime Minister’s Office to voice their opposition against the Thai government’s plan to extend the operation hours for the country’s nightlife.
According to Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the government is considering extending the closing hours for the country’s nightlife in some areas to as late as 4 AM in order to boost tourism and the economy. PM Srettha has instructed the Ministry of the Interior to identify suitable locations where entertainment venues are, currently closing at 12AM to 2 AM in official entertainment zones, could potentially operate until 4 AM.
The chosen pilot locations will be released once the police and business operators finish preparing safety protocols and operating procedures, according to Interior Minister Anutin Charnvilakul. Popular tourism and entertainment areas like Patong and Pattaya are likely to be the top of the list and local business owners have shown strong support for the proposals.
However, the Drink No Drive group pressed the government to slam the brakes on this idea, saying longer drinking hours would only lead to more chaos, including deaths on roads, pollution, and crime rates.
The complainants, some sitting in wheelchairs, argued that Thailand has a lot more valuable attractions rather than its nightlife such as beautiful tourist destinations, rich cultures, or street food.
Instead of prioritizing the entertainment industry, the group urged the government to concentrate on enhancing and promoting the above aspects of the country in order to benefit a wider portion of the population. The group disagreed with exceptions for even popular nightlife areas like Pattaya, saying this would lead to other areas also asking for exceptions or extensions and that it was better to have a consistent policy.
Concerning tourists, the group petitioned the government to also give priority to their safety, as there have been continuous incidents recently that are eroding visitors’ confidence.
Statistics from the Accident Data Center of Thailand show that there have been 443 foreign nationals who lost their lives in road accidents in Thailand from the beginning of 2023 to October. Additionally, more than 16,888 individuals sustained injuries.
As of October 10th, 2023, the overall summary of fatalities from road accidents in Thailand are 10,916 individuals, with 617,220 reported injuries. According to the accident data center, the main cause of these accidents, accounting for 25-30%, is attributed to drunk driving.