Praise must also go to Governor Norraphat Plodthong for starting the ball rolling early in telling officials to get organised well before the annual onslaught, leading to some 50 checkpoints – some static, others mobile – across the island during the past week.
It is by no coincidence that the number of people killed and injured in Phuket during the seven days remained even lower than any other non-holiday period, especially in a tourism destination and a province where so many Thais are not at home for their family to chastise them.
Phuket has become a stage name in the international media for deadly road accidents, and this week that stigma has been rolled back – at least for now.
What is disheartening is that efforts to stem the blood flowing on our streets is not continued throughout the year. This week officials proved that it can be done. Now the question plainly is, “Why isn’t it done more often?”
If the all the blather about preserving Phuket’s image as an world-class tourism destination is even worth the air it takes to spout, then the powers that be can take heart that they have accidentally tripped over one sure way to improve the island’s reputation.
Rolling checkpoints are a good start. Another good option would be to start cracking down on the staggering number of people stopped and fined for driving a car or motorbike without a licence.
We understand that many of those people caught might well be among the poor who need to use their vehicles to make a living. But many are not. Just like the myriad tail lights on motorbikes on the island not working, if they can afford the vehicle and put petrol in it, they can afford to get the licence.
Perhaps driver training could be part of the penalty for being caught driving without a licence. That way offenders would be taught traffic laws while paying their penance.
Further, a little community service at traffic checkpoints would help lighten the burden on the volunteers who spend their nights caring about other people’s safety.
After all, how can a driver without a licence be even trusted to control their own vehicles never mind adjust to traffic in Phuket?