633 netted in motorbike crackdown

PHUKET: Despite wide publicity before the event, police caught 633 motorcyclists without helmets during a crackdown last night, at the start of an ongoing roadblock blitz. Bare-headed bikers had their driving licenses checked and their names taken, after which they were obliged to listen to a road-safety lecture. After listening, they were allowed to go on their way without a penalty. But in future, riders who have had already had a warning and are caught a second time without helmets will face fines of up to 500 baht. Last night’s police action, part of a national campaign, started simultaneously at 8 pm in Phuket Town, where 226 motorcyclists were caught, and in six other spots around the island. Elsewhere the tallies were: Chalong (80), Thalang (80), Kathu (97), Tah Chat Chai (20), Cherng Talay (50) and Tung Tong (80). Those netted faced a delay of 20 minutes while officers lectured batches of them. Police plan to repeat the process each day from now on at different, undisclosed locations. The arrests came despite wide advance publicity on TV, radio and websites, as well as in a flyer signed by Governor CEO Pongpayome Vasaputi, in which he alerted motorcyclists to the campaign. “You will know in advance that there is a road block coming up,” the flyer read, “so you can either go through the road block, wearing your helmet with pride, or you can spend the rest of your life going round the back roads.” Gov Pongpayome himself visited the checkpoint in Saphan Hin, where he was accosted by a motorcyclist caught in the police web. “I have my son with me,” the man explained, “and he is being bitten by the mosquitos. Can I take him home now?” “No, you may not,” the Governor replied sternly. “Having your son on your bike at night without a helmet is more dangerous than any mosquito.” The rider was obliged to stay and listen to the lecture.

Phuket News
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