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Morgue work for Thai drunk drivers

BBC News BBC News 12/04/2016
Road sign (signage in Thai and English) stretches across the Toll expressway into Bangkok city from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand: Many Thais travel long distances during the Songkran festival © BBC Many Thais travel long distances during the Songkran festival

Drunk drivers in Thailand could be sent to work in morgues under a new plan to cut the country's dismal road safety record, officials say.

People take part in water battles with elephants as part of celebrations of Songkhran - the Thai new year - in the city of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok, on April 11, 2016: Songkran sees water fights and parties held throughout the country © AFP Songkran sees water fights and parties held throughout the country

"It is aimed to be a deterrent, a way to discourage people," police colonel Kriangdej Jantarawong said.

New Year celebrations start on Wednesday, with many people travelling long distances to visit family.

About 24,000 people die each year on Thai roads, according to the World Health Organization.

Only Libya has a greater number of fatalities per capita from road traffic accidents.

The government already sends some drunk and reckless drivers to work in hospital wards, Nontajit Netpukkana of the department of probation said.

But authorities decided that "the intensity" of morgue work would help give offenders a more explicit idea of the consequences of their actions, he said.

The cabinet approved the plan last week. Courts will be able to decide who deserves the punishment, the Bangkok Post reports.

Thailand's annual three-day New Year festival, known as Songkran, sees revellers throughout the country take part in water fights.

The government has assured tourists that despite severe drought the event will go ahead as usual.

Heavy drinking is common and the week of the festival is nicknamed the "Seven Deadly Days" because of a spike in road accidents.

The government earlier this year said the cars of drunk drivers could be impounded for the duration of the holiday.

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