Wednesday is the first day of Songkran, the Thai New Year, a festival that was once primarily characterized by paying respects to one’s elders by gently pouring water over their hands, and by sprinkling statues of the Buddha with water.
In recent times, though, the festival has earned a more ominous moniker: the Seven Days of Danger. That is because the three-day celebration and week-long holiday have morphed, for some, into a pretext for alcohol-fueled street parties. And since so many Thais use the holiday as a chance to drive to hometowns across the country, the result is a spike in drunk-driving fatalities in a country that is already the second-most deadly, per capita, for road accidents. Only Libya ranks higher. With eight exceptions, including Thailand, the rest of the top 50 are all in Africa.
As a deterrence, Thai police are employing a drastic new tactic this year: sending culprits to work in morgues. According to the Bangkok Post, courts will be able to decide who merits the punishment, and for how long. The Thai cabinet approved the plan last week.
A police colonel, Kriangdej Jantarawong, told the AP that the morgues would be in hospitals.