The confirmation follows a slew of local residents posting online copies of speeding tickets issued showing the speed limit as 50km/h.
The posts included complaints that police have for years assured that speeding tickets would be issued only for those caught exceeding 100km/h along the busy road.
Phuket City Traffic Police Deputy Chief Lt Col Rungrit Rattanaphakdee explained to The Phuket News that under usual circumstances motorists are permitted to drive up to 80km/h along municipality roads in accordance with the Road Traffic Act B.E. 2522.
However, for Phuket’s bypass road, the speed limit is just 50km/h, as signposted along the road, he said.
“Although drivers of private cars and motorbikes can drive not over 80km/hour on municipality roads in accordance with the Road Traffic Act B.E. 2522, all drivers must follow the 50km/h signs installed along the bypass road,” Lt Col Rungrit said.
Lt Col Rungrit’s understanding that the speed limit signs posted along the bypass road are mandatory contradicts the explanations given in 2015 by former Phuket Highways Office Chief Samak Liedwonghat and Lt Col Teerawat Liamsakun, who was Phuket City Police Chief at the time.
Mr Samak confirmed in 2015 that the speed limit signs in Phuket with a white background and a red circle are in fact advisory only, and not mandatory.
Lt Col Teerawat also confirmed that speed limit signs were advisory only, but added, “If drivers don’t want to comply, they may have an accident.
“Actually, speed is limited by law on this road [the bypass road] to 80km/h in tessabaan (municipal) areas and 90km/h in other parts. Our speed cameras are set to detect vehicles going faster than 100. Anyone caught going faster than that risks receiving a speeding ticket in the mail,” Col Teerawat warned back then.
However, Phuket City Traffic Police Deputy Chief Lt Col Rungrit has now made it clear that the actual legal speed limit is just 50km/h, as the signs indicate.
Lt Col Rungrit maintained that motorists would not be issued speeding tickets by the speed cameras installed on the bypass road unless the vehicle was travelling faster than 100km/h – twice the legal speed limit.
Yet, Lt Col Rungrit offered no explanation as to why motorists were now being issued speeding tickets for driving slower than 100km/h along the road.
Many of the posts online included photos of the tickets issued clearly showing that the speed camera had determined that the vehicles were travelling at less than 100km/h.
However, all of the photos of the speeding tickets posted online showed that all of the tickets were issued for vehicles travelling faster than 90km/h.
“There are signs showing where the speed limit area begins and where the speed restriction area ends which were installed after an order of the Phuket accident reduction committee even before I came to take this position,” Lt Col Rungrit told The Phuket News.
“However, so far we have had tickets issued only to the drivers who drove faster than 100km/h,” he maintained.
Lt Col Rungrit explained at length that the bypass road was built to reduce traffic congestion in the Phuket Town area during peak hours.
However, the long straight sections of the bypass road has resulted in many high-speed accidents, he added.
“The signs are there to remind drivers to drive carefully under the speed limit, as normally drivers drive very fast on the road, leading to accidents,” he said.
“People can see police are using speed cameras beside the side because our [other] cameras that had been used for a long time became broken.” Lt Col Rungrit also explained.
“We are trying to use technology to charge drivers’ behaviour, so we use speed cameras and have tickets sent to their homes. As you can see, we never set up any checkpoint along the bypass road, except during the long holidays,” he said.