Coronavirus lockdowns across Southeast Asia are reaping an unexpected benefit: safer roads in a region where road fatalities are a leading killer.
In Thailand, where road accidents last year killed more than 21,000 people, many on motorcycles, such deaths were down by roughly half in April, according to the Road Safety Commission.
During the first month of the lockdown in Malaysia, road accidents and deaths decreased by about two-thirds, according to the Traffic Enforcement and Investigation Department.
And in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, the roads are much safer now than they were pre-lockdown, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority. Under a strict lockdown that is in place until at least the end of this month, only essential vehicles — ambulances, police cars and motorcycle delivery operators — are allowed on the streets.
Canceled festivities, such as curtailed New Year's celebrations in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar in April, have also cut road deaths. Fewer people carousing and driving while drunk means safer roads.
Several countries in Southeast Asia have relatively low rates of confirmed coronavirus cases . In Thailand, road deaths remain a bigger killer than the pandemic, according to official data.
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