Phuket Provincial Police Commander Teeraphol Thipjaroen, 56, took up his position on the island last year. He is a graduate of the Royal Police Cadet Academy and has been working in Phuket since 1983, except for brief postings to Krabi and Surat Thani.
Here he talks about the roles and responsibilities of the police and citizens during Songkran to help each other reduce drunk driving and accidents during the New year celebrations.
PHUKET: Of course Songkran is a time when people want to socialize, throw water at each other and generally have a good time. Drinking alcohol is usually part of the celebrations and there’s no real harm in people getting a little tipsy.
The thing is, people just don’t walk about as much as they used to. These days most people drive about, which, of course, is a lot more dangerous if they have been drinking.
We don’t want to ruin anyone’s Songkran by arresting them or fining them and impounding their vehicle, but sometimes we are forced to take these measures – even if it means locking someone up – to save that person’s life and possibly the lives of the people around them.
Drinking impairs a driver’s ability at the wheel. They take longer to react to dangerous situations and make poorer decisions on the road. Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous, cruel and irresponsible actions a person can take. They are not only willfully putting their own life in danger; they are also putting the lives of countless innocent people in danger as well.
Drunk people not only cause numerous road accidents and deaths, but are often involved in other crimes – from inappropriate dancing to fighting. The number of criminal offenses that involve drunk people during the Songkran holiday is too long to list.
Perhaps the best option is simply not to drink alcohol at all during the holiday. It would be a great deal more fun than ending up in jail or having to deal with the consequences of injuring or killing another person.
The police on the island will do their best to protect you, even from yourself. However, we cannot guarantee your safety. You, too, have to be responsible for yourself.
During the ‘Seven Days of Danger’ road-safety campaign, we will be establishing checkpoints to help us crack down on traffic violations and drunk driving. As part of this effort, the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) has ordered us to seize any vehicle being used by a drunk driver during the Songkran holiday safety blitz. Such a measure makes perfect sense and will be strictly enforced. However, we can’t be everywhere all the time. So, it is essential that you don’t allow yourself, friends or family to drink and drive – be a hero and save their lives.
In short: Be responsible. If you drink, don’t drive.
I don’t want to see anyone’s Songkran holiday ruined because he or she lost a loved one to senselessness on our roads. Help us to have zero deaths on Phuket’s roads during this year’s Songkran Seven Days of Danger campaign.
Happy Songkran everyone!
— Kongleahy Keam
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