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Phuket Opinion: B500 – too little, too late

Phuket Opinion: B500 – too little, too late

PHUKET: Despite serious campaigning efforts by the government over Songkran to reduce road accidents and casualties caused by drink-driving, this year’s holiday period saw the largest amount of traffic fatalities in memory – 442 in total nationwide, a new official record.

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By The Phuket News

Sunday 24 April 2016, 08:00AM


Small fines are having little impact on correcting aberrant driving behviour. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

Small fines are having little impact on correcting aberrant driving behviour. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

The Phuket News has often pointed out the lack of law enforcement as one key factor; however, what the above statistic highlights is that even with a heavy police presence during the Seven Days of Danger, there remains a large number of fearless motorists on Thai roads who have total disregard for the law.

Despite having plenty of warning about increased enforcement, many motorists were still willing to forgo helmets or seatbelts, and demonstrate little hesitation to drink-drive, resulting in 277,055 people booked.

As it stands, the fine for not wearing a helmet is a mere B500, likewise for not wearing a seatbelt. Worth noting is that in Thailand, the seat-belt law does not apply to all passengers in a car. In fact, there are no safety laws regarding children riding in or on vehicles, unlike in more developed countries.

Of the 277,055 people charged for drink-driving, 153,626 were drivers of motorcycles and 123,429 of cars and public-transport vehicles. Only 4,963 motorcycles, in addition to 1,650 of other types of vehicles, were seized, the respective owners allowed to reclaim their vehicles right after the festival period.

Though the penalty for drink-driving can be up to three months in jail or a fine of up to B60,000, or both, it is very rare for penalties this severe to be issued.

Compare this to the laws in most western countries, where a drink-driving charge can easily result in a license being revoked for up to two years, with the severity of the penalty increased upon subsequent violations.

Which begs the question: are Thailand’s traffic laws tough enough to deter potential violators? Based on the new record, one would have to reason they are not.

Nonetheless, the government earlier this week said its latest efforts have proved “productive” in raising awareness of the problem. They also reassured us that campaigning will continue throughout the year, beyond the “seven days of danger”.

If authorities are really serious about changing the status quo, then surely it’s time to consider tougher penalties – ones that will ensure potential violators think twice about the consequences.

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bjroen2@online.no | 25 April 2016 - 07:19:24

To Mr or Miss poumpouye : Thailand it`s a hell now specialy Phuket, Phang Na ++++ only 0 Dollar Turist +++, And About Europe we send this IS people to Thailand,so be ready to take about 600.000 people Miss or Mr poumpouye plenty room in Phuket.

simon01 | 24 April 2016 - 10:12:23

The problem is selected areas and selected law breakers. If they were the same to everyone then it wil be fine no matter what. There are 30 people a minute go past my house with no helmet. may be 5 are Farrang but the police will never be there even thought there are many accidents. If they wanted drink drivers The go to Patong 12am go north of Bangla on the beach road (as one way). North of bangl...

Belzybob | 24 April 2016 - 08:57:40

It seems to me that the laws are in place and suitable penalties are available in most cases;all that's needed is effective policing and prosecution.

As far as the statistics go, stop calling the issuing of a traffic ticket an 'arrest' and use the WHO criteria where a death occurring within thirty days of the incident is shown as a road death. If that criteria was applied, Thailand ...

poumpouye | 24 April 2016 - 08:29:05

Stop to try to make thailand hell like in europe !

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