PHUKET: I have been driving various vehicles in Phuket on a daily basis for 12 years now. I started out riding a Honda Wave, before moving on to a car and a big bike. My 12 years of experience on the road has made me realize that people risk their lives every day because of their sheer lack of discipline.
What do I mean by lack of discipline? Just drive out into the street, look to your left and to your right, and you’ll see what I mean.
There are motorbike drivers riding without helmets, driving through stop lights and riding against traffic without caution. Many cars make sudden turns without indicating, and if you honk at them, they’ll give you dirty looks. All of these actions can result in accidents.
A lot of Thais and expats on Phuket think mai pen rai: don’t worry, it’s okay.
They think mai pen rai when driving through stop lights. They think ‘It’s okay. There’s no need to wait. There are no vehicles coming’. Just last week, I was driving toward Phuket Town from Koh Kaew when I had to stop at the Bus Terminal 2 intersection. During the 45-second wait, I saw 15 people drive through the red light – all without helmets.
On the opposite side of the same intersection, u-turns are forbidden. However, those with lack of discipline ignore the law and make the turn, even with a legal u-turn only 80 meters away.
They think mai pen rai when riding a short distance without a helmet. Maybe they don’t want to waste time putting it on, or maybe they just got a new hair cut that they don’t want to mess up. Either way, what happens if they have an accident in that distance?
The highlight of all this madness right now, for me, is the new Darasamuth Underpass intersection near Central Festival. Motorists heading south on the way to Central from the Samkong intersection often try to do a u-turn just before the underpass – this is a massive risk. Even barriers and a big sign telling them that a u-turn is prohibited won’t stop them from doing it.
These problems are not limited to locals and expats, tourists are also extremely reckless on the road. They don’t know the streets, and a lot of them ride at high speeds, helmet-less and shirtless.
All of these decisions can cause accidents, and put the driver’s life and the lives of others in danger.
I ask that you please think before you act, and consider those who you might leave behind if your irresponsible decision ends badly. Drive carefully. Exercise self discipline. Do not risk your life, your family members’ lives or those of innocent strangers.
— Pruth Kulprasit
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