The move is part of a key strategy to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on Phuket’s roads.
Gen Angkoon revelaed the news to The Phuket News’ Thai-language sister newspaper Khao Phuket ahead of his meeting with the Phuket Road Safety Committee on Thursday (Nov 15). (See story here.)
“As the past has shown, many road accidents are caused by tourists who are not accustomed to the road, have no motorbike driving experience and no motorbike license,” Gen Angkoon said.
“I believe that cooperation by every department can resolve the problem of tourists having accidents on rental motorbikes.
“Tourists lacking the skills to safely ride a motorbike is one of the key problems, not to dismiss the importance of tourists not wearing helmets. If a tourist is involved in even a small accident, if they are not wearing a helmet, the tourist can die,” he noted.
Gen Angkoon said he was pushing for the key steps to be taken to help resolve the problem.
“Rental motorbikes should bear a sticker clearly indicating that it is a rental, and the helmets handed out by rental operators should all be the same design and colour. This will make it easier to identify which motorbikes are rentals,” he said.
“But more importantly, once these motorbikes are easier to identify, police can pull them over and check to see if the tourist has a licence that proves he or she is qualified to operate a motorbike (even in their home country),” Gen Angkoon explained.
“If the tourist does not have the appropriate licence, then the police officer can seize the motorbike and notify the rental operator to come and collect it.
“And before the motorbike is handed back, the rental operator will be fined for renting out a motorbike to a tourist who does not have the correct licence,” he said.
“We are looking at doing this more in Phuket and on Samui for greater safety on the road. However, we will inform the motorbike rental operators again before launching the crackdown to make sure they understand what will happen,” he said.
Of note, the strategy was launched in Phuket in April this year, but Gen Angkoon said that the impetus to follow up on this has fallen short.
In announcing the launch, the Phuket Provincial Police Commander at the time, Maj Gen Teeraphol Thipjaroen, explained that any person or business that rented out a vehicle to an unlicensed tourist will be fined B2,000 per instance. (See story here.)
Gen Angkoon explained earlier this week, “We have raised this issue with the Minister of Tourism and Sports, and the response was good. The police have to be serious about this.
“Any drivers who do not have a driver's license must be stopped immediately and the police can contact the motorbike owner to pick it up later,” he said.
“We will not let those who are not ready to drive on the road, for the sake of the driver’s own safety. In Samui, we arrest the driver and have them watch a training video to see the loss caused by accidents, so they are scared and tell their family,” Gen Angkoon added.
“But to accomplish this, all departments involved have to work together, and the penalties handed down for this depends on the province,” he said.