Police say a pickup truck carrying a group of students in southern Thailand has careened onto a traffic island and hit some trees, killing eight of the students and the driver.

Police Lt. Sujin Srithong said the accident occurred Tuesday in the southern province of Narathiwat when the driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel. He said four students were hospitalized in serious condition.

Pickup trucks are often used for group transportation in Thailand.

Several studies have found that Thailand has one of the highest traffic fatality rates in the world. A World Health Organization survey ranked it second worst after Namibia.