Young Mr Ryan was on holiday with a friend when he lost control of his motorbike and drove into the oncoming lane and straight into a minivan on the coastal road between Kamala and Patong on Jan 24. (See story here.)
Lt Col Yossaphat Suwannasit of the Kamala Police who has been leading the case told The Phuket News, “The rental shop owner was fined B2,000 last week. Vehicle rental companies that rent vehicles to people who do not hold a valid driving licence must be fined B2,000.”
However, Col Yossaphat also added, “The operator explained that they had rented the motorbikes to a second man who was older and presented a valid driving license to rent the two bikes for himself and for 17-year-old Ryan.”
Considering the rental shop’s explanation, it was not explained exactly what the shop was fined for.
When asked for information about the shop and whether it is still open, Col Yossaphat said, “It is not closed. It is only a small shop in Patong. I can’t remember the shop’s name.”
The issue of vehicle rental operators hiring out motorbikes to tourists who do not possess a valid motorcycle driving licence even in their home countries was addressed several times by high-ranking officials and even a Tourist Police Major General last year, to no avail.
In February, April and November campaigns were launched specifically targetting motorbike rental operators that were renting out motorbikes to tourists without a valid driving licence.
Operators are to be fined B2,000 for the offence, while repeat-offenders would have their permit revoked through the Department of Business Development. (See story here)
Capt Eakkachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police told The Phuket News that a meeting was held on Wednesday (Feb 6) to address key issues concerning Mr Ryan’s case.
Also in attendance were Phuket Vice Governor Supoj Rotreuang Na Nongkhai and Phuket Land Transport Office officials.
“First, the shop rented out the motorbikes after having only seen a driving licence and no passport. Both documents should be a requirement for renting a vehicle,” Capt Eakkachai insisted.
“Second, the shop raised the issue of claiming for damages to the motorbike – a grey area that allows tourists to escape liability.”
Vice Governor Supoj said at the meeting that in order to reduce accidents, vehicle rental operators must ensure that tourists understand the traffic laws and know the importance of following them.
The issue around the requirement of rental operators having specific rental insurance on their vehicles was not addressed.