The contract for the installation of the “intelligent-camera system” was signed on Sept 7, Dr Wiwat Seetamanotch, Vice President of the Phuket branch of the Thai Road Safety Network, confirmed to The Phuket News on Wednesday (Sept 21) at a meeting of officials to discuss details of the cameras’ deployment.
The cameras will take four months to install, hence the countdown of 120 days began on Sept 7, Dr Wiwat explained, setting a launch date for the system for Thursday January 5, 2017.
“The system costs B16,176,367, with the funds provided by the UK-based Safer Roads Foundation,” Dr Wiwat noted.
Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen told The Phuket News that the five locales chosen were “the main intersection in Thalang; a major intersection in Kathu; the intersection of Thepkrasattri Rd and Komaraphat Rd in Phuket Town; Kwang Rd in Wichit; and a major intersection in Kamala.”
“Signs will be installed at the five locations so that motorists have no excuse that they didn’t know the law was being applied there,” he added.
“Each location will have three cameras, and the system will be first used for issuing automatic fines for motorbike riders – and passengers – not wearing helmets,” Gen Teeraphol said.
The cameras and the combined system have the ability to read license plates of cars and motorbikes, he said.
“The system also has face-recognition image capability, and can identify motorbike riders regardless of whether they are wearing helmets or not, but at the initial stage the cameras will not be linked to the national ID database,” Gen Teeraphol explained.
“The cameras can also sense vehicles that cross stop lines at intersections, so if a motorist crosses a stop line while the light facing them is red, we will be able to automatically fine them running a red light,” he said.
“For this, I have ordered police in all areas to ensure stop lines are painted clearly at major intersections in their areas, and I have asked all local government municipalities to do the same,” he added.
The system even has the ability to sense – and take clear images of – people riding or driving the wrong way against the flow of traffic, a habit known locally as “ghostriding” or ghostdriving”, Gen Teeraphol noted.
“In issuing the fines for not wearing helmets, the system will compare the license plate captured in the photo or image with the database of registered vehicles kept at the phuket Land Transport office (PLTO),” he said.
“Tests have shown that it takes only about 10 minutes to get a positive match, then the system will print the fine as issued by the police and send it directly by mail.
“If the fine is not paid within within seven days, we will request the Phuket Land Transport Office (PLTO) to revoke the registered owner’s driver’s licenses. The PLTO has agreed to do it,” he warned.
Gen Teeraphol noted that people who objected to the fine – or having their license revoked – can file a formal complaint with the PLTO, as that is the correct department respsonible for enforcing traffic laws.
Fines will be issued to companies, including car and motorbike rentals agencies, Gen Teeraphol said, but added that it had yet to be confirmed what action would be taken against “repeat offender companies”.
Dr Wiwat noted that the “intelligent-camera” system was only one of nine projects underway in Phuket by the Safer Roads Foundation.
“The main goal of the foundation is to reduce the number of people killed in road accidents in Phuket to less than 50 people per year by the year in 2020,” he said.
Dr Wiwat noted that 148 people died in road accidents in Phuket last year alone, the same year that Dr Wiwat revealed that Phuket had the worst per capita road-fatality record in the country. (See story here.)
Adding to Phuket’s deplorable road-safety record, the United Nation’s World Health Organisation last year rated Thailand as the second-worst country in the world for road safety. (See story here.)
“Last week, Phuket Provincial Police Station was given two speed cameras with the budget provided by the Safer Roads Foundation, and two more cameras with funds provided by the Phuket Provincial Office. Those four speed cameras were donated to the Phuket City Traffic Police,” Dr Wiwat explained.
Last year, the Safer Roads Foundation donated B2,398,500 to build a traffic circle at the intersection of Surin Rd and Narisorn Rd in the old government quarter in Phuket Town, a notorious blackspot where five people were killed and dozens more were injured in traffic accidents in one year alone. (See story here.)
The foundation in August last year also provided B1,143,000 for 39 breathalysers issued to Phuket Provincial Police. (See story here.)