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Phuket Opinion: Unlicensed to kill

Phuket Opinion: Unlicensed to kill

PHUKET: Phuket is amid a four-day weekend for one of the biggest – and most dangerous – holidays of the year. Twice a year the government stages its “Seven Days of Danger” road-safety campaign to coincide with the Songkran Thai New Year in April and the Jan 1 New Year holiday periods.

opiniontourismtransportaccidentsdeathcrimepatongpolice
By The Phuket News

Sunday 30 December 2018, 09:00AM


A Traffic Police officer conducts a stop at a checkpoint on Thepkrasattri Rd on Friday (Dec 28). photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

A Traffic Police officer conducts a stop at a checkpoint on Thepkrasattri Rd on Friday (Dec 28). photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

During both holidays most of the nation is on the move, heading home to see loved ones for the extended holidays – with most of those travelling by road.

Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana has called on those rolling out the road-safety campaign in Phuket to keep the number of deaths “lower than the past three years”, a blurred goal with Phuket suffering two deaths and 46 people injured in 46 accidents during New Year campaign at the start of this year, two people killed and 81 injured during the holiday period for New Year 2017 and seven people killed and 75 others injured in road accidents in New Year 2016.

Phuket is not alone in the killing statistics. During the campaign for New Year 2018 Songkhla and Nakhon Sri Thammarat provinces suffered seven deaths each, while Surat Thani suffered 21 people killed.

Nationwide, 583 people died during the Seven Days period for New Year 2018, compared with 596 for New Year 2017.

To put that into perspective, as of Nov 30 this year, Australia suffered 1,108 deaths on its roads for the whole of the country, for the whole of the year so far.

To put that into perspective, Thailand as of Christmas Day on Tuesday had suffered 15,271 people killed and 1,008,332 injured so far this year.

Thanyapura Football

While all the police checkpoints and “Don’t Drink And Drive” campaigns do play a part in keeping the road death toll down for the New Year Seven Days period, what is evident from the arrest statistics from the police themselves is the staggering number of people arrested each year for operating a vehicle without a licence.

During the Seven Days New Year campaign at the start of this year police stopped and fined 1,430 people in Phuket for driving without a licence. That’s in just seven days, with 400 of those coming on the last day of the campaign alone.

The numbers boggle the brain, unless the police are openly operating a “catch and release” policy for unlicenced drivers, relegating charge to nothing more than a parking ticket.

If Thailand wants to start shedding its title of one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be on the roads, this is a good place to start. Many other countries already levy appropriate penalties, treating the act for exactly what it is: the willing endangerment of lives, including that of the driver caught.

Usually handing down a mandatory driver training session helps. Being forced to spend the money to take the lessons usually ends up with the driver paying the relatively token fee for the licence itself.

With that, from all of us at Class Act Media, we wish you a safe Happy New Year.

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Capt B | 31 December 2018 - 02:45:58

To put it into real prospective, Australia has the most number of repeat offender drunk drivers on its roads more than any other nation, probably because all of its court judges & police prosecutors are drunk drivers themselves. The only punishment  a drunk driver, or a meth junkie driver will ever understand is a mandatory jail sentence.  No driver should have to share the road with drunks. 

Discover Thainess | 30 December 2018 - 12:18:09

Quite agree - of course why the authorities think that closing lanes (with little or no warning) on busy multi lane roads and bunching everyone into a single lane is safer than allowing free flow of traffic is anyone’s guess. Playing on phones under a tent while traffic carnage ensues is an interesting stance to reduce accidents. All good fun. 

DeKaaskopp | 30 December 2018 - 10:37:30

Punishment/Fines  for locals/tourists for driving without having any license at all are indeed not severe enough.It won't stop anyone doing this again and again.Forcing caught locals to take driving lessons may help,but you can't force tourist's to do so,as the time they spend here may be not enough for the whole procedure.

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