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Phuket transport chief confirms pickup passengers allowed, no seatbelts required in tuk-tuks

PHUKET: While Bangkok authorities this week debated whether or not people can ride in the back of pickup trucks – a common practice across Thailand – the Chief of the Phuket Land and Transport Office (PLTO) has confirmed to The Phuket News that it is beyond doubt legal to ride in the back of pickup trucks on Thai roads.

transport, accidents, police,

Shela Riva

Thursday 6 April 2017, 04:45PM

Riding in the back of pickup trucks is legal, Phuket's Land Transport chief has confirmed. Photo: The Phuket News / file
Riding in the back of pickup trucks is legal, Phuket's Land Transport chief has confirmed. Photo: The Phuket News / file

“Passengers in the back of pickup trucks are allowed,” PLTO Chief Banyat Kantha told The Phuket News.

“This is because Section 21 of the Vehicle Act B.E. 2522 (1979) was amended in 2003 so that a private vehicle such as a private pick up truck – with vehicle weight of not more than 1,600 kilograms – may be used as a private car and is permitted to carry more than seven passengers,” he explained.

“Families in Thailand, for a long time, have used pick-up trucks as private family vehicles. They are often required to transport all the members of a large family. So it is allowed,” he added.

Regarding the new law requiring all passengers to wear seatbelts, which was launched yesterday (April 5. See story here), Chief Banyat noted, “Passengers in public transportation vehicles such as tuk-tuks and songthaew (trucks or pickups converted to carry passengers) are not required to wear seatbelts as these vehicles are not installed with seatbelts for the back passengers.

“Drivers and front seat passengers in these vehicles, however, do need to wear seatbelts,” Chief Banyat explained.

However, whether people will be able to continue to ride in the back of pickups in the future remains unclear.

Yesterday (April 5), the government backtracked on a new rule banning people from travelling in the rear space, or tray, of pickup trucks following fierce criticism from the public.

The ban was announced only on Tuesday (April 4).

The regulation will now be enforced only after the Songkran festival, they now say, reports the Bangkok Post.

Deputy National Police Chief Pol Gen Detnarong Sutthichanbancha said the government decided to offer a reprieve, though a date had yet to be fixed for commencing the enforcement of the new pickup passenger ban.

During the Songkran holidays, officers will give only verbal warnings to passengers who sit in the back of pickup trucks, he said.

People can continue to sit in pickup trays and the government has not set a maximum number of passengers, Gen Detnarong added.

However, he insisted police will still enforce the law requiring the mandatory use of seat belts, particularly for passengers in commuter vans.

A Chumphon police officer is being investigated after he posted a Facebook message criticising the controversial measure, the Bangkok Post also reported.

Lt Col Akarat Hoongnam, an inspector at Salui Police Station in Tha Sae District of Chumpon, said the law should not cause problems for people and that it would be important to enforce it at all social levels.

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“If high-society people or the rich are allowed to make the laws, they will not care about the plight of the poor,” he said. (See story here.)

Instead of barring people from riding in pickup trays, there should be a greater focus on enforcing speed limits, he said.

However, Chumphon Police Chief Sonthichai Awathanakulthep has instructed Col Akarat to explain his actions, according to Chumphon Police deputy commander Wimol Phitakburapha.

Col Wimol said if he is found to have committed an offence, a committee will be formed to take disciplinary action against him.

He said police are duty-bound to enforce laws in line with government policy, and they should not oppose them.

Meanwhile, a Facebook post by a police officer in the Deep South complained that the people who came up with such traffic laws are those who spend their time in air-conditioned rooms and do not care about the poor.

“How would 10 people be able to go to work together in the front space of a vehicle? How could we [the police] fight back against bandits who shoot at us?” he said, referring to the fact that police also sit in the back of pickups.

Following the announcement of the ban, more than 100 people were arrested within two hours on Wednesday (April 4) in Khon Kaen’s Muang district after police set up a checkpoint there.

The traffic violators were fined B200 each. They included those who failed to fasten their seatbelts and people travelling in back of pickup trucks.

Khon Kaen Police Chief Noppadol Petsut said the fines were low and efforts had been made to educate drivers. Some received only verbal warnings.

Bandit Donnang, a 65-year-old driver of a pickup, was arrested and fined B200 for carrying his relatives in his vehicle’s tray. They were heading to a merit-making ceremony.

He said even though he agreed with the road safety push, he wanted authorities to ease the measure.

“People in rural areas do not have enough money to pay for public transport so they just travel together in a pickup as a group to save on transportation costs,” Mr Bandit said.

For the full Bangkok Post story, click here.



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Kurt | 07 April 2017 - 16:35:56

Funny story I like to share with other readers:
Short while ago I drove Patak Road Karon/Kata.
Out of the entrance of a 4-5 star hotel came full speed a tuk tuk. 
In de bend the tuk tuk lost one aft wheel. Quite hilarious to see how the empty wheel shaft was scraping over the road.

It was not hilarious to see the faces of the 3 'Quality' tourists in the back of that cookie tin.
I did break and stopped, cause they were almost falling out of the back of that tuk tuk.

I am always amazed that thai officials not obligate tuk tuks to have a hole belt.

After all tourists don't have to ride tuk tuks in their own country.
So, a bit of tuk tuk safety precautions would not be bad.
Why is that not done?

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Asterix | 07 April 2017 - 11:16:05

According to national media, only six passengers will be allowed in cargo bed of pickup trucks and also behind the driver’s seat in extended cab pickup trucks during Songkran.
However, all passengers on public transport vehicles such as vans, taxis and inter-province buses (Bangkok city buses are exempt) must wear seatbelts. 
Up to six passengers riding in pickup truck’s cargo bed will be permitted, but they must not sit on the edge or the truck’s tail gate.
The most popular type of pickup truck in Thailand is the extended cab, where a few passengers can sit on bench seats behind the driving seat. However, there are no seat belts in the extended space, which is a contravention of the new regulations.

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CaptainJack69 | 06 April 2017 - 22:13:36

Well, all the Thai TV I watched this lunch-time (Thursday the 6th) was still telling people they categorically can NOT ride in the back of pick-up trucks. Of course these reports come from Bangkok, perhaps K. Kantha believes Phuket operates independently?

The fact is it has always been illegal but, like so many other things in Thailand, has always been excused. The interim government is trying to do the right thing by enforcing this law, but could be accused of lack of fore-thought in its execution, considering the huge public out-cry this has caused.

The effort by authorities now seems to be about informing the public about the "new regulations", which will be enforced soon after Songkran.

Saying that people don't need to wear seat-belts in the back of Tuk-tuks because "they aren't fitted with them" is moronic in the extreme but not surprising considering the PLTO's obvious affiliations (it's not by accident that there are no public buses on Phuket and ride sharing services are being suppressed).

Personally I'm all in favour of this. Riding in the back of pick-ups is really dangerous. I've seen people fall out myself, and not just when they're drunk. Do I expect to see any reduction in the number of people doing it? Not a chance. Just like helmets on motorbikes, driving on the left, the use of mobile phones, speeding and drunk driving it's up to the police to actually enforce the law. Otherwise people just do what-ever they want.

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Discover Thainess | 06 April 2017 - 21:17:25

It's about time seatbelts were required in tuktuks. Safety of tourists should be paramount. 

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marcher | 06 April 2017 - 20:54:18

Absolutely crazy. So a full load of people in a pick-up is safer than me in my car with a full range of air bags but no seat belt on? Ridiculous. I remember some time ago a crash on a bridge with 24 people in the pick-up. 16 were thrown off the bridge to the road below

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Kurt | 06 April 2017 - 18:57:14

Ok, so, many safety regulations and measures are not enforced during the 7 days of death on the Songkran Roads, but ( may be) after Songkran week. Wow.
Than the whole nation wide police safety campaign is completely useless.
Than police tent sitting will be really tent sitting. Big joke.
Verbal warnings given from under the tent while watching tv.. hahaha.

We all remember the many catastrophic accidents with pick up trucks, people were flying out of the back and died on the tarmac, or concrete poles/trees. 
Or other speeding cars were driving over their wounded bodies.

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