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Phuket Opinion: Technology the driving force in making Phuket's roads safer

Phuket Opinion: Technology the driving force in making Phuket's roads safer

PHUKET: It is to Phuket’s continuing international shame that we rate as the most dangerous province in Thailand for road deaths, which itself is ranked as 14th most dangerous country in the world.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 25 September 2016, 09:00AM

A police officer uses a speed camera on Phuket's busy, and dangerous, bypass road. Photo: Mark Knowles

A police officer uses a speed camera on Phuket's busy, and dangerous, bypass road. Photo: Mark Knowles

The recent announcement of the helmet detection/face recognition cameras to be installed at five locations in Phuket, at a cost of B16 million, seems like a step in the right direction for improving rates of helmet use on the island. The cameras will reportedly scan number plates and combine them with face-recognition data to automatically issue fines to the vehicle owner’s registered address. (See story here.)

This latest measure comes on top of an increase in the number of speed-detection guns and alcohol breathalysers in use by the Phuket Provincial Police in the past year. The fact that this recent uptake in road safety technology has been driven by the UK-based non-profit Safer Roads Foundation can be read as a positive sign that local authorities are taking note of international standards and practices for road safety.

At first look, it seems that fines issued to the vehicle’s registers owner may not end up punishing the person who was actually operating it, but process is still an important step in creating an accountable system for traffic offences. By automatically issuing fines to the registered owner, it avoids the grey area of on-the-spot fines issued by police, which arguably have little impact on rider behaviour.

Once fines are legally issued and recorded, it begins to pave the way for the creation of a demerit-point style system which takes into account a person’s past driving behaviour and is ultimately able revoke their licence, and even hand down custodial sentences, after a certain number of infractions.

Despite the inevitable cries of, “It wasn’t me!”, if the system is maintained and unpaid fines have legal consequences, it could begin to encourage and strengthen the overall culture of road-safety and encourage personal responsibility for who is allowed to drive a vehicle registered under your name.

Again, despite the inevitable problems with rolling out such a system, both technological and legal, 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.


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Kurt | 06 October 2016 - 09:55:04

malczx7r: All you bring up is very true, but it is up to the person in question to wear a helmet or not.
He/she should be aware of safety when he/she is the main earner. 
They should realize about brain damage.
And hospital staff? They treat with care, and get paid for their work.
Hospital staff see daily silly road accident people coming in.
No where you see daily so many ambulances 'rac...

Rorii | 05 October 2016 - 17:17:10

swerv..we all, including Kurt, understands what budgets are, and how they are obtained, but we all know that part of an islands budget SHOULD be put aside for road maintenance,

malczx7r | 05 October 2016 - 13:34:40

Christy Sweet,.... "The decision to wear or not wear a helmet is a personal choice that impacts no one but one's self"  Not true, what about the hospital staff dealing with people who are injured, families who loose their main earner, people who don't die but become brain damaged and then need constant care.

Yes I agree the van drivers and minicabs drive appallingly and need t...

swerv | 04 October 2016 - 16:29:47

Jeez Kurt: What a miserable life you must lead....moan, moan, moan.
Yes you do need my advice on this because you seem to be ignorant on how Phuket receives income. It's called a budget and if the local authority have spent their allocated funds...there is no more money. Nothing to do with corruption.
And, another book? Can't make sense of half of it.

Kurt | 04 October 2016 - 09:30:20

swerv, you could have spare you the effort of reacting.
We not need your advice in this.
We all  know how the financial system works, including budget 'dividing' as well.

But it is silly that there is no permanent money budget available on Phuket for immediate road repairs, like DANGEROUS potholes, etc.
Did you read that sometimes Phuket inhabitants are so tired of waiting (months!)f...

swerv | 04 October 2016 - 07:30:16

Kurt: Please familiarize yourself with how the financial system works. Phuket has to ask for a budget from Bangkok for small and large projects. Income generated on Phuket does not stay in Phuket it goes to central government in Bangkok.

Kurt | 03 October 2016 - 12:57:44

For large potholes and other road repairs is no money available.
Always the same song: "have to ask for budget".
For enormous amount of money costing useless 'projects', wow, money falling down with the monsoon rain, just with a finger click.
Guess why.

Kurt | 03 October 2016 - 08:28:46

Mother Theresa of Patong,  Yup, you are right!
Actually, it would be interesting to learn , after installation of these few cams, to read a financial report how that full amount of 16 Million was spent.
We never will know that of course.

Mother Theresa of Patong | 02 October 2016 - 16:32:47

They already have the cctv on all the major junctions. This new 16 million system won't make any difference to road safety across the Island and if they can keep the cameras operational will just be used as a cash cow to raise revenue.

If they are going to enforce the law then they should enforce all the traffic laws (motorbikes with illegal side cars, no brake lights etc) and not be select...

Christy Sweet | 28 September 2016 - 13:56:58

Using the logic of some commentators  on this topic, one should be forced to wear a helmet while driving a car, a condom while having sex and never, ever be allowed to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
 The decision to wear or not wear a helmet is a personal choice that impacts no one but one's self yet a hugely disproportionate amount of time and resources are spent enforcing this law. It i...

Joe12 | 27 September 2016 - 20:35:05

Kurt.."Who cares about helmet" do for starters as well as commentators on here after any reports of deaths from not wearing helmets. Helmets are for safety. It is the law. I think you expect too much 

Kurt | 27 September 2016 - 18:21:17

swerve: Who cares about helmet? I don't understand this fascination for helmets. 
It is just to collect fines, at times when RTP is in the mood for it. ( not raining, not to hot, hehehehe)
Helmet if for yourself, personal responsibility.
And about lack of protection with use of the cheapest helmets is already written enough.

More important are these motorist who drive through red lights,...

Rorii | 27 September 2016 - 16:22:41

Joe12, these cameras do not need to be "watched/checked" in order to determine if working, the system will throw up a "video failure" alarm, if a camera fails, the power goes off, cable cut etc. This alerts the monitoring station, that can then send a technician, if in fact they have one. I can remember when the tsunami warning system wasn't working, they said a technician ...

Joe12 | 27 September 2016 - 12:15:51

Kurt ... perhaps you aren't aware but on 16 September last, the PM launched the “Startup Thailand and Digital Thailand 2016” and “Phuket as Smart City and Startup Paradise” event. Perhaps you should make yourself familiar with what that entails and how this current system fits in with the key note address presented by the PM. As PN rightly points out, "...acknowledge them as the i...

Kurt | 27 September 2016 - 09:26:24

swerv: we may expect cctv at main roads, like at at Bypass Rd as announced in the pass,  and few new generation camera's (B16 million)are to catch traffic violators and not only for 'helmet checks'.
But also for speeding of motorbikes, cars, etc?

Would be interesting to learn how many speed tickets daily for speeding at Bypass Rd were the last 2 years daily sent to home addresses.

Joe12 | 26 September 2016 - 18:56:00

Kurt... no, cameras are not checked daily overseas - that's stupid. Don't know where you got that from.   

swerv | 26 September 2016 - 14:15:19

"a face picture taking doesn't work when he wears a helmet with tinted screen."

The CCTV is for catching riders WITHOUT a helmet.

Kurt | 26 September 2016 - 10:28:33

Anyway, Phuket has a continuing history of operational cctv systems not working, simply because they not check and double check or it is working.
Recognition camera's are of higher technical standard but vulnerable., need to be tested daily!
They do that in other countries.

I see Phuket officials already thinking:.."oooh, daily?, shocking, to hot, to much work, no time for that"...

Kurt | 26 September 2016 - 09:21:55

Yes Rorii, you are right. I commented that also.
Another issue is that when a motorbike goes through red traffic light or is speeding, a face picture taking doesn't work when he wears a helmet with tinted screen.
I also have not much confidence in upkeeping/maintenance of such system, for the same reasons you described.

Beside of that, handling of a Phuket traffic offence fine procedure h...

Rorii | 26 September 2016 - 06:41:40

OK, let's assume they can get these cameras working, and keep them working, facial recognition requires the camera to capture someons face, but hey, bikes don't have number plates on tbe front, of the bike. Even facial recognition  requires better quality stored images to compare with those captured and high speed computers to analize one image, never mind many. Sorry, butIMHO Thailand doe...

Joe12 | 25 September 2016 - 11:47:35

Kurt...didn't you understand the article? "...automatically issue fines to the vehicle owner’s registered address...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." In other words, it doesn't matter where you live or if you give the bike for someone to ride, it...

Kurt | 25 September 2016 - 10:38:59

Very good  opinion article.
However the new implementing system stands or falls with yes/no house registration of Thai people on Phuket.

And as we know many thai remain registered in their home town/villages.
They just work on Phuket temporarily a few years, stay in room friends/colleagues ( room sharing), and are home wise not traceable on Phuket.

The registration of house address of fore...

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