As the year draws to a close, the country grapples with a somber reality. More than 800 lives were lost and nearly 1,000 people were injured in road accidents from January to November.
The Traffic Police Department of the Ministry of Public Security revealed a toll of 6,182 accidents, damaging 10,926 vehicles and causing an estimated LAK 131 billion (approximately USD 6,390,885) in losses, which demands urgent attention.
Overspeeding emerges as a significant contributor to the alarming statistics, with drunk driving ranking as the second leading cause, according to the traffic police. January alone witnessed 770 road accidents, claiming the lives of 114 people, marking the highest recorded number of fatalities in 2023.
But Sebastien Perret, co-founder of Vientiane Rescue, casts doubt on the official figures, expressing skepticism that the actual monthly injuries in Vientiane Capital far exceed the reported statistics.
“The official figures of road traffic accidents and related deaths and injuries—already scary—are 10 times below reality,” Perret said.
He emphasizes that addressing the issue requires more than just law enforcement, underscoring the need for improvements in road safety, maintenance, and awareness campaigns. Perret further cited the poor road condition in Nalao village, home to one of the rescue stations, which causes consistent damage to ambulances and the high occurrence of motorbike accidents.
“Since 2010, we’ve saved between 70,000 and 85,000 people on the roads. But all of these that we couldn’t save remind us of the urgency to change behaviors,” Perret said.
That’s what inspired Vientiane Rescue to carry out road safety projects in local and international schools, aiming to instill a culture of safe road usage among the youth and influence parents and families toward a broader community-wide shift toward road safety.
Additionally, in response to the concerning statistics, the authorities have approved stringent regulations to mitigate road fatalities during the approaching New Year holiday. Driving under the influence of alcohol or overspeeding is strictly prohibited, and law enforcement will treat it seriously, the authorities announced. Offenders may face arrest and detention. Refraining from phone use while driving and avoiding side-by-side riding for bikers are some other aspects of the new regulations.
Additional measures include limiting passenger vehicles from exceeding 80 kilometers per hour in urban areas, adhering to set time limits for carrying goods or passengers, and prohibiting children under ten years old from operating any vehicle.