The move is being heralded as a way to finally rein in wayward drivers of cars and motorbikes, who repeatedly flout traffic laws on the premise they can just pay the fine and continue their dangerous driving habits.
From Dec 19, police officers issuing tickets for moving violations will update the details of the fine, including which driver has been caught, to a national database which every police station in the country will be able to access, Col Phakin explained.
“The system used is the same one that used in issuing e-tickets, which is already connected to the Department of Land Transport database. Any points deducted will apply to the driver anywhere in the country,” he added.
The system will see each driver appointed 12 points, with points deducted for each traffic law violation. The number of points to be deducted will vary depending on the severity of the violation, Col Phakin said.
However, the enforcement in Phuket will be rolled out in stages, he added.
“Phuket City Police Station will start using the system on Dec 19. Officers at other police stations in Phuket will start doing so after they have been trained properly in how to use the system correctly,” he explained.
Dr Wiwat Seetamanotch, Program Manager RTG-WHO (Royal Thai Government – World Health Organisation) Country Collaborative Strategy on Road Safety, which drives the national road safety plan in Thailand, explained that once traffic police have been trained properly, the system is expected to have immediate effect.
“The demerit points will be attributed automatically when traffic police enter the charge into the database. Police can enter the charge and fine on their smart devices from anywhere, even by the side of the road,” said Dr Wiwat, who well knows Phuket’s road-safety record. Only a handful of years ago he served as the Deputy Chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office, and he still lives in Phuket.
However, some final adjustments still need to be made before a final order from Bangkok is expected, Dr Wiwat added.
“At our most recent public hearing on this on Nov 12, about 70% of the demerit points to be deducted were agreed on. We need to adjust a few more. We are waiting for the Royal Thai Police make the necessary amendments to the regulations. The number of points to be deducted will be finalised and approved in the coming week,” he told The Phuket News on Monday (Dec 2).
Most importantly, drivers who lose all 12 points will automatically be banned from driving for 90 days.
Any person caught driving while their licence is suspended will soon have to face the new penalty for driving without a valid licence – up to three months in jail or a fine of up to B10,000, or both.
The existing fine is up to 30 days in prison or a fine of up to B1,000, or both – but rarely fully enforced.
“The new penalty is being added to the redrafted regulations, which is expected to come into force early in the new year,” Dr Wiwat said.
Any drivers whose licences are suspended must undergo mandatory refresher courses in order to have their licences re-instated, he added.
“At this stage, once demerit points have been accrued, the points lost will not be restored until one year after the offence,” Dr Wiwat noted.
The Royal Thai Police will launch a new application called “Khap Dee” - which translates to “Drive Well” or “Good Driving” – so drivers can confirm how many points they have left on their licences.
“It will be available for download by the end of December. People will be ale to see their own demerit points,” Dr Wiwat said.
“Road accidents happen every day – and they are killing people. They can’t just pay the fine and ignore their bad driving habits anymore,” Dr Wiwat said.
“This is about human behavior while driving, which is risky and unsafe. This needs to change, so we can make our roads safer,” he said.