The Phuket News has often pointed out the lack of law enforcement as one key factor; however, what the above statistic highlights is that even with a heavy police presence during the Seven Days of Danger, there remains a large number of fearless motorists on Thai roads who have total disregard for the law.
Despite having plenty of warning about increased enforcement, many motorists were still willing to forgo helmets or seatbelts, and demonstrate little hesitation to drink-drive, resulting in 277,055 people booked.
As it stands, the fine for not wearing a helmet is a mere B500, likewise for not wearing a seatbelt. Worth noting is that in Thailand, the seat-belt law does not apply to all passengers in a car. In fact, there are no safety laws regarding children riding in or on vehicles, unlike in more developed countries.
Of the 277,055 people charged for drink-driving, 153,626 were drivers of motorcycles and 123,429 of cars and public-transport vehicles. Only 4,963 motorcycles, in addition to 1,650 of other types of vehicles, were seized, the respective owners allowed to reclaim their vehicles right after the festival period.
Though the penalty for drink-driving can be up to three months in jail or a fine of up to B60,000, or both, it is very rare for penalties this severe to be issued.
Compare this to the laws in most western countries, where a drink-driving charge can easily result in a license being revoked for up to two years, with the severity of the penalty increased upon subsequent violations.
Which begs the question: are Thailand’s traffic laws tough enough to deter potential violators? Based on the new record, one would have to reason they are not.
Nonetheless, the government earlier this week said its latest efforts have proved “productive” in raising awareness of the problem. They also reassured us that campaigning will continue throughout the year, beyond the “seven days of danger”.
If authorities are really serious about changing the status quo, then surely it’s time to consider tougher penalties – ones that will ensure potential violators think twice about the consequences.