PHUKET: Nineteen people died in traffic accidents between June 20 and July 20, according to statistics from the Wachira, Thalang and Patong government hospitals. Ampaipan Pawawattananusorn of the Phuket Provincial Health Office reports that 18 of the victims died while on motorcycles, while one was in a car. In the same period, 57 people were injured in car accidents, while 846 were hurt riding motorbikes. This year’s totals from January 1 to July 20 show 13 people killed in cars and 108 on motorcycles, with 6,806 people injured, of whom 6,070 were on motorbikes. The motorbike injury statistic is up significantly from the same period in the past three years. In 1997 the figure was 5,746, in 1998 it was 5,729, while last year it fell slightly to 5,691. Pol Lt Col Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Deputy Superintendent of the Phuket Police Station, told the Gazette, “The main cause of the high accident rate is that although most of the riders know what is right and what is wrong, they still persist in doing things the wrong way.” “Many of the people caught in police checkpoints are found to have modified their motorbikes to the point where it increases the likelihood of having an accident. Another problem is that riders don’t know the law well enough. “We have about 200,000 motorbikes in Phuket because there is little in the way of other kinds of transport in Phuket. Most of the riders are students, some of them too young to qualify for motorcycle licenses, but there are no buses or other modes of transport for them. “When it comes to helmets, things are a bit better than before; most riders take helmets with them, especially in the daytime, though the main reason they do so is to protect themselves from being stopped by the police,” Lt Col Teerapol said. He added that anyone wanting to know more about traffic laws may ask the police or call the Traffic Department on 220919.
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