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High hopes for road safety under new points system

High hopes for road safety under new points system

PHUKET: Dr Wiwat Seetamanotch, Manager of the World Health Organisation (WHO) ‒ Royal Thai Government Country Cooperation Strategy for Road Safety Programme, has high hopes for the demerit points system for traffic violations to come into effect on Monday (Jan 9).

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By Chutharat Plerin

Saturday 7 January 2023, 09:00AM


The new system just might be the catalyst needed to start encouraging a change in driver behaviour in Thailand that will finally see a fall in the country’s notorious rate of deaths and injuries in road accidents.

Dr Wiwat is of special importance to Phuket. He is Vice President of the Provincial Traffic Accident Prevention Support Plan. As a former Deputy Chief of the Phuket Provincial Health Office, he has long championed road-safety initiatives in the province.

He is also the person who in 2015 brought to public attention Phuket’s special place as the most dangerous province in the country for road accidents, at a time when Thailand was ranked, according to officially recognised statistics, as the most dangerous country in the world.

Dr Wiwat sees equality as the first main benefit of the points system, whereby points are deducted from a driver’s licence for each offence accordingly. “I think that it [the points system] is a very good thing, because in foreign countries [a similar] scoring system creates justice for society. For people who are wealthy, paying a fine of B500 to B1,000 does not affect them, but for poor people paying B500-1,000 can mean a lot compared to their income. A demerit point system treats all people equally,” he said.

“Repeated offences will see the points given [initially 12 points] reduced to zero. If a driver has a licence suspended because all the points have been deducted, that will plainly indicate there is a problem in driving behaviour or lack of knowledge,” he added, alluding to the fact that if repeat offenders wanted to continue driving they would need to change their attitude, and behaviour, towards driving on the roads.

People being required to undergo driver and road-safety training in order to regain their points will have an effect, Dr Wiwat notes. Key to this understanding is that the penalty for being caught without a driving licence come Monday will be much more severe than previously. “The penalty for driving without a licence, including a licence that has been suspended, is now up to three months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to B10,000, or both. This one also has the formal support of the Department of Land Transport, because the number of people driving without a licence is quite high,” Dr Wiwat said.

Of note, during the Seven Days of Danger safety campaigns for the annual Songkran and New Year holidays, driving without a licence is traditionally the most common traffic violation for which people are fined. During the Songkran holidays in 2019, the most recent year when Phuket had a comparable number of drivers on the roads, more than 4,500 people were stopped and fined for driving without a licence in only seven days.

That game has changed, as Dr Wiwat noted, “If a person continues driving without a licence, because it has been suspended, then this will be a serious offence. And if a licence is suspended three times, then the misconduct is habitual and the licence may be revoked altogether. This will prevent continued offences.

“Therefore, in the long run, every Thai person must have a driver’s licence and law enforcement will become more effective. In the beginning, we must use the laws that we already have, but those laws are considerable, and the penalty for driving without a licence is now stronger,” he said.

THE SYSTEM

After more than a year in fine tuning, the points system to come into effect on Monday (Jan 9) was officially announced by national police chief Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas and Land Transport Department Director-General Chirute Visalachitra on Dec 1.

Gen Damrongsak explained that the new provisions were introduced through the “Regulations on rules, methods and conditions relating to the driving behaviour score recording system of licensed drivers, 2022” issued under the Traffic Act. 2522, specifically through an amendment to Section 142/1. The changes are to take effect on January 9, 2023.

Under the system, all Thai driver’s licences will be assigned 12 points. Points will be deducted from the licence with each traffic violation. Offences, and the number of points to be deducted, have been classified into four levels.

Of note, the points system applies to Thai driver’s licences only. No mention has been made of any effect on the driver’s licences of foreigners caught breaking traffic laws, other than the relevant fines and other penalties.

Offences such as speeding, not wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike, not wearing a seatbelt, not stopping for a pedestrian crossing or using a mobile phone while driving, will cost drivers one point for each infringement. Disobeying traffic signals (running a red light), for example, will cost drivers two points.

More serious offences such as leaving the scene of an accident (hit-and-run) will cost drivers three points, while driving while drunk or under the influence of another substance will cost drivers four points, Gen Damrongsak explained.

These offences, 20 in total, were under the purview of police, Gen Damrongsak said.

Other offences regarding the legality of operating a vehicle on a public road were under regulations administered by the Land Transport Department, and classified separately, he added.

Offences administered by the Land Transport Department, numbering 42 in total, will see points deducted only if the offender fails to pay the fine within the time given, Gen Damrongsak confirmed.

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Such offences included violating traffic signs, or markings, on the road, parking in a no-parking area, failure to present a valid driver’s licence while driving, and so on, he said.

All traffic violations will be recorded through the Royal Thai Police ‘Police Ticket Management (PTM)’ database, which will automatically deduct points from the respective licences, he said.

To facilitate payment of traffic violations, a special ‘e-Ticket’ website’ ‒ https://ptm.police.go.th/eTicket/ ‒ has been set up by the state corporations Krung Thai Bank and National Telecom, he added.

People can pay fines through the ‘Krung Thai NEXT’ and ‘Paotang’ mobile banking apps without fees. The ‘e-Ticket’ website accepts payments via debit and credit cards.

National Telecom will create an app called ‘KHUB DEE through which people can check how many points they still have left on their licences, Gen Damrongsak explained.

At time of press, the app had yet to become available on Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

SUSPENSION

Any driver who loses all 12 points will be automatically suspended for driving for 90 days. Any person caught driving while their licence is suspended will face a fine of up to B10,000 or up to three years in jail, or both, in accordance with Section 156 of the Traffic Act, Gen Damrongsak confirmed.

“If the licence is suspended for a third time within three years, it may be suspended for longer than 90 days, and if the driver’s licence is suspended again for the fourth time, it may be revoked altogether,” he said.

RECLAIMING POINTS

Points will automatically be restored one year from the date of the offence, except when the points result in the licence being automatically suspended, Gen Damrongsak noted.

If that is the case, the driver will have only eight points restored on completion of the 90 days’ suspension, he said. The driver will have to continue for the following year with only those eight points.

Points may also be reclaimed by undergoing driver and road safety training through the Land Transport Department. People can apply to undergo the training sessions at their local Land Transport Office, he said. (Click here for the Phuket Land Transport Office website, or visit the PLTO Facebook page.)

 

People can apply to voluntarily undergo the driver training to have points restored if their licence has less than six points. However, they can undergo the training sessions only twice within one year.

After completing a training session, drivers must pass a test, with the pass mark set at 60%. The training sessions range from two to four hours, depending on the number of points to be reclaimed.

Drivers who fail the test can apply to take the same test for a second time on the same day. If they fail again, they can apply to take the test for a third time within seven days of the first test failure. It was not explained what happens if a driver fails the test a third time.

Drivers can undergo special training sessions to have their licences restored to a full 12 points. For details people need to contact their local Land Transport Office, Gen Damrongsak said.

Additional reporting by Anton Makhrov

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Kurt | 07 January 2023 - 19:27:32

@Fascinated,.. Than they grip back on usual doing. Driver gets a fine, receives a ticket, a free pass for him for the rest of the day during illegal driving. The usual happening. You think the majority of the Thai have no license?

Old guy | 07 January 2023 - 17:41:56

These systems work in countries because they have law enforcement personnel to be out in public catching offenders. Thailand has no such police agency. The net result will be no different than now. 

Fascinated | 07 January 2023 - 13:11:36

Great- but what about the vast majority that don't have licences in the first place- oops.

JohnC | 07 January 2023 - 09:36:39

Dare I say that if the RTP did their job properly there would be a lot more law breakers apprehended. Rather than only pull people over at set check points try stopping violators when you are riding around patrolling. I can't count high enough to state how many law breakers I have seen pass by cops on bikes who do nothing to stop them.

 

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