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Phuket Opinion: Welcome to Phuket – Don’t kill, don’t die

Phuket Opinion: Welcome to Phuket – Don’t kill, don’t die

PHUKET: Serious action needs to be taken now to help prevent more deaths on Phuket’s roads, before more tourists arriving end up heading home in a coffin, a victim of the island’s notorious lack of road safety.

opiniontourismSafetyaccidentsdeathRussian
By The Phuket News

Sunday 18 December 2022, 09:00AM


Far too many people are being killed on Phuket’s roads. Photo: Rescue Team Volunteers Phuket

Far too many people are being killed on Phuket’s roads. Photo: Rescue Team Volunteers Phuket

According to the national Thailand Road Safety Committee (ThaiRSC) Phuket has already suffered eight road deaths this month, and that is with the tourism ‘high season’ just starting. So far 103 people have died on Phuket’s roads this year, with a further 16,365 injured.

Phuket officials, despite all their rhetoric, are doing nothing to curtail the killing on our roads. There have been so many serious, and deadly, accidents in Phuket in the past two weeks that Rewat Areerob, President of the Phuket Provincial Administration Organisation (PPAO), has made an urgent call for foreigners to donate blood.

There is currently a “Massive shortage of Rh Negative Blood” on the island, “due to the increasing number of foreigners who suffer from accidents in Phuket”, Mr Rewat said in his appeal.

Yet not one of these life-taking accidents have been reported by police. They have not been recognised at all by any Phuket officials. Right now they are busy putting a shining smile on the rising number of foreign tourists to the island.

Vincent Modell, founder of the Rescue Team Volunteers Phuket, this week went public with an urgent appeal for people to make road safety a personal responsibility. “Vinnie” to his friends has spent years working with Kusoldharm rescue workers. He has scraped more than enough bodies from Phuket’s roads.

“You have people hiring motorcycles here in Thailand, hurting themselves even killing themselves. But now the blame is being passed to the motorcycle rental companies, why?” Vinnie posed.

“They [the tourists] went to the motorcycle shop hired the bike knowing they’ve never ridden a bike before, or riding like complete buffoons with no helmet, insurance or care.

“I agree a level of responsibility for the companies to check licenses etc… These companies are simply supplying to demand like alcohol… There is a culture now of passing the blame to others … not accepting responsibility for their actions,” he wrote.

He’s right. There is very little anyone can do about people intent on placing themselves in danger, even at risk of losing their lives, or the lives of others. The Phuket News begs each and every person to tell every foreigner you meet – especially tourists – to be careful riding a motorbike here, especially if they have never ridden one before. Make it a personal responsibility.

Yet The Phuket News cannot ignore motorbike rental shops renting motorbikes out to people with no experience or a licence to ride a motorbike in their home country. The law is there, but as we have pointed out time and again it is enforced only after someone dies – or as a photo opportunity to make police and officials look good.

The public appeal by Vinnie Modell came after a video circulated showing a motorbike accident on a coastal road involving two young foreign women, whose physiology suggested they were Russian. No other vehicles were at the scene.

The body of one of the women lay crumped in the small space between the road and the guardrail. The surviving friend was sitting beside the motorbike in the small space, slumped in devastation at the loss of her friend. The video was emotionally devastating. The Phuket News was told the woman killed in the accident was just 20 years old. Neither of the women were wearing helmets.

In all its promotions, and the glory it basks in for the revival of tourism, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) does not carry any campaigns urging potential visitors to beware the dangers of our roads. That must change.

No one is expecting the TAT to lead the charge in law enforcement to help save lives. Keep in mind that the TAT’s solution to tourists being killed in jet-ski accidents was to have jet-ski rental operators carry mandatory insurance and for tourists by law sign a form confirming the danger they are about to undertake – a solution that blatantly ignores the law that in Thailand any person must have a special licence in order to operate a jet-ski.

Yet the TAT and tourism operators must start warning tourists about he deadly dangers of our roads before they get here. By the time tourists arrive it is likely too late, with the arrivals having nothing more than their holiday on their mind. If we may suggest a campaign slogan, the TAT might want to consider: ‘Welcome to Phuket – Don’t kill, don’t die’.

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Capricornball | 19 December 2022 - 12:03:19

Maverick hit the nail on the head.  Efficient public transportation could help immensely. If something like the airport bus ran every 15-20 minutes, tourists would have an option. There could even be a weekly/monthly unlimited use pass for purchase so tourists could get on and off when and wherever they want. Instead, they have to deal with PLTO cartels and criminal reckless thug drivers.

Kurt | 19 December 2022 - 10:00:37

Taswegian, perhaps 3 type of motorbike riders? The 3rd type are people with a driving license, having many years experience on Phuket roads and know how to anticipate in the traffic, and ...not drive with lunatic 'tourist speed'. ( possible under influence of alcohol)

maverick | 19 December 2022 - 09:40:50

If there was decent public transport on the island tourists would not be tempted into risking their lives by renting motorbikes getting around is impossible without wheels and young tourists put their lives on the line - I have ridden a bike here safely for 30 years but I always dread high season when unqualified tourists hit the roads 

Taswegian | 19 December 2022 - 08:30:35

There are two types of scooter/motor cycle riders in Thailand: Those who have had an accident and those who are going to have an accident!

Kurt | 19 December 2022 - 07:28:57

Many accidents, wounded and dead tourists, happen as the Thai law enforcers are not doing their job. No law enforcement on motorbike rental shops and jet-ski rentals who rent out to people without license. And why? Because of laziness to do their job, and/or corruption. Taking bribes to look the other way. Imagine what difference normal law enforcement in Thailand would make?

Capricornball | 18 December 2022 - 19:28:54

Oh jeez, more idiocy from harald, who has now made it perfectly clear that he is nothing but a troll

Capricornball | 18 December 2022 - 19:27:29

Rental companies in Europe, US or Oz wouldn't think of renting a vehicle to an unlicensed person due liability issues. But here, there is no liability or responsibility on any business, gov't or law enforcement/public safety entity. People that come here are in vacation mode, and in the absence of any law enforcement, it becomes a dangerous free for all, which Phuket certainly is.

Capricornball | 18 December 2022 - 19:17:12

@Mark, There is a reason that Thai law makes it illegal to rent a motorbike to unlicensed riders, the reason being is unlicensed and untrained riders represent a public safety threat to themselves and others. Any idiot should understand that. In spite of everyone knowing that, local gov't and police couldn't care less about any law that infringes on there opportunity to make an easy baht.

harald | 18 December 2022 - 17:24:45

it's funny to read the comments here from some farang armchair "experts", from a farang who has been riding his motorcycle an average of 60 km a day for over 10 years and has never had an accident, for whom phuket is very safe and the police are among the best in the world, because they let farangs drive like thais. never been ripped off by the police

christysweet | 18 December 2022 - 16:29:21

Phuket has the most traffic fatalities in the known universe and no amount of recategorizes place of death ( ambulance ride to hospital instead of road-side ) is going to change that. Libya currently holds # 1 spot as it simply has far less per capita of  emergency services. 

SEC2 | 18 December 2022 - 16:11:54

A friend visiting last week (who has a motorcycle license in the US) asked me if all the people that rent motorbikes have the proper license?  555  He also commented about the new point system.  I told him it would work if there was enforcement.  Maybe BKK, not here. very sad.

DeKaaskopp | 18 December 2022 - 13:17:33

" Well police have make many accidents here in Phuket,se every day in Chalong roundabout"  What ? What are you talking about ? Police make accidents ? 

Old guy | 18 December 2022 - 12:48:30

Thailand is actively 
 promoting road fatalities because of the money it generates. Hospitals make a fortune. Much additional money cash from grieving relatives to pay damages and tea money. It's good for Thailand.
Think not?
Then why doesn't Thailand actually do something? Money. No road rules enforcement. Ever see anyone pulled over for tailgating or speeding? 
So, try to survive. 

christysweet | 18 December 2022 - 12:34:27

I do not drive after 3:30 pm when the kids  get out of school and are screaming around 3 to a scooter. The cement  and water trucks are in an extra hurry, too. Seems to me the  worst of all are the commercial truck drivers as they equate their mass with ownership of the road and appear to have no knowledge of mass and velocity constants.  

MarkCassini | 18 December 2022 - 12:04:29

Adults are responsible for their own actions, nobody else. These tragedies are simply a part of the territory of motor vehicles & densely populated areas. It is human nature to seek blame but the reality is humans are largely responsible for their own well-being. It comes with the territory. 

These events arent the responsibility of a rental shops - People themselves must take responsibilit...

Nasa12 | 18 December 2022 - 12:01:11

Well police have make many accidents here in Phuket, se every day in Chalong roundabout.Chalong police stop close every tourist, and give them a ticket 1000 to 1500 bath for not to have a driver license. They pay and of they going to next control or accident. 

Prab | 18 December 2022 - 11:36:20

perhaps also teaching Thais to drive responsibly could help.. nor that only the tourist here are driving badly... Tuk Tuk, Mini Van, even big buses.. bigger they are more irresponsible they seems to be.. 

Fascinated | 18 December 2022 - 10:54:24

Two thai ladies killed in Kamala approximately 10 days ago and nothing reported. ironic that this article is next to the one about the woman being killed in Chalong. the 'but I'm on holiday' attitude of tourists sees many of them as a hazard on the road.

Timothy | 18 December 2022 - 10:51:13

In the west, bar owners can be charged with over-serving patrons who later cause accidents. Here, any idiot can rent out a motorbike to another idiot who has no licence. Even if they crash and die....No problem. Charge their immediate family for the bike repair!

Timothy | 18 December 2022 - 10:43:07

The reason there are laws is to protect people from making bad decisions. Seatbelt laws, helmet laws, speeding, running red lights, driving in the wrong direction, drunk driving etc etc. Laws are made to ensure people follow sensible rules. Without enforcement people do all kinds of stupid things, like we see here all the time. They should not rent to people without licences...period!

Den Alder | 18 December 2022 - 10:09:04

Don't kill, don't die. This is by far the best slogan I have ever seen from the TAT. Applause!

JohnC | 18 December 2022 - 10:08:41

Mr Modell is very wrong. The rental companies bear just as much blame as the dumb tourists themselves. If they refused to rent their motorbikes to anyone who cannot produce a valid motorbike licence many injuries and deaths would not occur. But we all know that will never happen because greed and the lust for tourist $ overrides any concern they may have for the welfare of those same people.

 

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