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Automatic camera fines for not wearing helmets to launch in Phuket

PHUKET: Traffic Police are already counting down the days to switching on cameras at five locations across Phuket that will automatically send fines for motorcyclists and their passengers not wearing helmets to the motorcycle’s registered owner.

transport, accidents, death, police,

Tanyaluk Sakoot

Sunday 25 September 2016, 08:00AM

A father and daughter wait at traffic lights near Phuket Town with a helmet sitting  idle in the basket. Photo: Tanyaluk Sakoot

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.)



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Betty Swollocks | 02 October 2016 - 14:30:32

It will just become another moneybox ( and probably not lead to any reduction in road casualties at all.

Tests have shown it takes 10 minutes to minutes to get a match of licence plate - oh my goodness I think the Safer roads foundation have been tucked up for 16 million baht because all of these junctions already have CCTV and a human operator could review the footage and get a positive match in much less than 10 minutes.

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Jim Fisher | 29 September 2016 - 17:43:13

A good idea, but it is obvious it will be plagued with problems from the start

1. The postal system is not reliable enough here.
2. What to do about short term motorcycle renters who have left the island after a few days.
3. The red light running is a farce, as the news story indirectly points out many lights have no white crossing line.

Whatever next - how about parking tickets for drivers who block one carriage way of the road like outside Kathu market at 5.30pm every single day

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Kurt | 27 September 2016 - 10:37:47

malczx7r: Indeed people who not wear helmet are the dumbest of the dumb.
And as Dr Wiwat revealed that Phuket has the worst by capita road-fatality record in the country, there must be a lot of dumb people on Phuket ( thai and foreigner)

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Kurt | 27 September 2016 - 10:04:39

All the thai motorists will thank Maj Gen Teeraphol in advance for letting them know where the 'intelligent camera's' will be installed.
At these locations will go to happen the same as around Chalong Circle.
Motorists drive direction Chalong Circle, and just before they take the helmet from the basket ( while driving) and put it on their head.
After passing Chalong Circle the helmet goes back in the basket. ( than the potential fine risk moment is over).

The same is going to happen at announced intelligent cam locations.
On forehand a waist of money to install them.

The whole overcomplicated thing will not work and die a soft death.
Not at least as on Phuket is no proper house address administration covering all thai who work on Phuket.
Many on Phuket working thai remain registered in home town/village.
Phuket government has not the slightest idea how many thai are living/housed on the island.

And as said, the cam system will not be linked to the national ID database.
If not, the system will not function.

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Kurt | 27 September 2016 - 09:38:02

Why are there no cams installed in Central Festival underpass ?
Motorbikes drive through many times, also tourists.
And the sign that such is not allowed is in thai language only.

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Christy Sweet | 26 September 2016 - 20:11:47

Poorly spent resources. Stop the maniacal car, truck and van drivers if you want to improve safety, not this petty harassment of lower income people.

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Joe12 | 26 September 2016 - 18:42:05

"helmet detection/face recognition cameras to be installed ... seems like a step in the right direction for improving rates of helmet use on the island...we should all encourage these efforts and acknowledge them as the initial scaffolding necessary to create a system that will hold people accountable for both the vehicles they own and their own actions on the road."

Obviously falls on "deaf ears."

Yes Captain Jack.."They'd get 100% coverage ... and the police and PLTO would be inundated with information (information they'd be more inclined to act upon if they knew a foreign organisation like Safer Roads also had). We live in a civil society. So it stands to reason, if no-one is prepared to put their hand up and report malczx7r... why bother complaining about it. Just keep your head in the sand and put up with it.

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malczx7r | 26 September 2016 - 14:54:35

Christy, people who do not wear helmets are stupid, actually the dumbest of the dumb! They are required to protect you! Try telling the deceased family who now have no father/mother to look after or support the family, plus the cost of treating those who don't actually die but are left brain dead!

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malczx7r | 26 September 2016 - 13:05:52

Fritz, roundabouts don't work here, come to Chalong to see it yourself, the Thais have no comprehension of giving way to anyone, they all just pile in like a free for all, too important to give way! Even when the keystone cops turn up in the evening to supposedly make it better and then two or three signal the traffic into the roundabout causing even worse congestion than normal, you couldn't make it up.  They have no idea how to control traffic, they really just confirm how incompetent they really are!

As for the cameras, my guess is the motorbike riders will just put the helmet on as they approach the cameras like they do at Chalong, I see it everyday.  The 17 million baht would have been better spent employing real traffic police officers out on the roads in vehicles enforcing the law! I saw 2 traffic police last night pull up outside a 7/11 near Chalong police station yesterday evening, as many bikes went past with helmet less riders they just stood there and did nothing!

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CaptainJack69 | 26 September 2016 - 12:52:22

Good idea, but lets be honest, this is overly complicated and will never work in Thailand. Even if the system ever actually gets running it will not be maintained and fail within weeks. The Safer Roads Foundation could have used their money much more effectively if they paid people to send in pictures of offenders.  500 baht for every set of pictures that clearly shows offending motorbikes both from the front and from behind. They'd get 100% coverage (instead of people learning where the cameras are) and the police and PLTO would be inundated with information (information they'd be more inclined to act upon if they knew a foreign organisation like Safer Roads also had).

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