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Phuket Opinion: Slippery road ahead

Phuket Opinion: Slippery road ahead

PHUKET: The results of The Phuket News poll this week heralded much support for Thailand to recognise driver’s licences issued by foreign countries, either in full or even in part for limited periods only

tourismtransportaccidentsdeathpoliceopinion
By The Phuket News

Sunday 7 January 2018, 09:00AM


Holders of a Thai driver's lIcence may use their licence in the UK without fear or favour for 12 months.

Holders of a Thai driver's lIcence may use their licence in the UK without fear or favour for 12 months.

It’s no secret that some Western countries have long allowed Thai drivers to operate vehicles on their roads, even if just as a temporary measure for tourists. To wit, the UK currently allows holders of Thai driver’s licences to use their Thai licence for up to 12 months. (See UK Govt website here.)

The Thai authorities finally recognising foreign licences would bring a bounty of benefits, but would also bring forth a few perils along the way.

First, it would go a long way for Thailand for uphold the international agreements it signs, much like the eventual crackdown on illegal migrant workers last year. Apparently the powers that be took umbrage with the word “slavery”, or the impending economic sanctions from the US and Europe, and finally took action to remedy the situation for the better.

Likewise, the constant barrage Thailand is deservedly getting in the international press for how lethal the country’s roads are is finally doing its part for the country’s “tourism image”. Recognising foreign licences can help correct that problem, especially when it comes to tourists renting motorbikes – which is probably the most dangerous thing they could do while on holiday here.

QSI International School Phuket

The net effect of recognising foreign licences would boil down to, “If they don’t have a licence to operate a motorbike in their home country, then they can’t operate one here.” Simple.

Yet this week Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong shone a little light on one aspect that authorities have been happy to ignore for decades. During a meeting to hear an update on the death and injury count for the Seven Days of Danger road-safety campaign for the New Year, Gov Norraphat pointed out that “motorbike rental operators might not be clear on the rules”.

Recognising foreign licences would also hit police in the pocket for a long-term money spinner: fining tourists for not having a valid – that is, Thai – driver’s licence, or an International Driver’s Permit issued in their home country. Yet it would keep inexperienced drivers off the roads.

If the goal is to save lives, and not to worry about the money to be made from tourists not having the correct driver’s licences, then Gov Norraphat knows which turn to take next.

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Fascinated | 08 January 2018 - 09:47:03

Fundamental flaw in the article is that the Governor is NOT part of the process of law. It is not for him to dictate what the police should do under the law. He could however liaise with the Regional Commander and ask HIM to take action. It is his job to direct the implementation of law on the island, not the Gov. not stopping Thai because 'they cannot pay' is ridiculous - stop the cash co...

Kurt | 08 January 2018 - 08:17:21

Keep solution simple!
A foreigner should have a car- or motorbike driving license from his country + that International Driving Permit booklet.

A suggestion: Add a thai language page to that booklet, for reason that many police officers, from top brass till lowest rank not read English.

And the thai police should do a better job on the motorbike rental shops.
teach them that keeping a pass...

Thai Safe Rider | 08 January 2018 - 00:25:39

As this is comparing to the UK, changing the focus to what is the real issue with road safety in Thailand which is the driver and rider skills. Both foreign and domestic. 
The majority of road user training done in the UK is on public roads. UK training at advanced level works in partnership with the Police to improve road user training, plenty of means to make money from that instead.

Discover Thainess | 07 January 2018 - 13:29:39

Sadly until the police realise the damage they do with this continued racial discrimination, then I doubt this will change. Just ridden down beach road in Patong, every foreigner on bikes being pulled over but thai people whizzing past with no helmets and not being stopped. I have all my documents so not a problem but this type of behaviour is what stops tourists returning. Short sighted idiocy.

CaptainJack69 | 07 January 2018 - 11:29:52

One thing to consider is that in developed countries motorbikes aren't as prolific as they are here. In the UK for instance they're rare, and you certainly never see the 'moped' style small bikes that swarm Thai roads.

As a result very few people have motorbike licenses and so could never legally rent one here. A fact that will do little to encourage Thai people to obey the law ...

BosysurfNaiHarn | 07 January 2018 - 11:01:22

Could the taxi/tuk tuk mafia be working behind the scenes on this one? Aren't most of the accidents in Phuket involving drunk Thais Intoxicated overly aggressive van drivers, Bus and truck drivers losing control?

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