Governor Relaxes Enforcement Of Helmet Law

PHUKET TOWN: The Governor of Phuket directed police to relax enforcement of the helmet regulation for motorbike taxi passengers following a vocal protest in the heart of Phuket Town yesterday afternoon. An estimated 800 protesters gathered at the Suriyadet Circle fountain at noon to listen as spokesmen called for an end to the enforcement of the regulation requiring both drivers and passengers to wear helmets. The leaders also wanted police to inform citizens of the location of traffic checkpoints before such checkpoints are set up. Later in the afternoon, the mob, which included dozens of motorbike taxi drivers, moved to the intersection of the Bypass Road and Thepkrasattri Road. There, they set fire to 20 helmets and snarled traffic, causing an estimated 600 airline passengers to miss their scheduled flights out of Phuket International Airport. Leaders demanded, and were later granted, a meeting with Governor Chadej Insawang, police officials and other provincial administrators at Phuket Provincial Hall. This morning, the governor’s office announced that enforcement of the helmet regulation for motorbike drivers and passengers would remain in force, but that no action would be taken against motorbike taxi passengers who fail to comply with the law. The governor urged all drivers and passengers to wear helmets for their own safety. The action came two weeks into a province-wide crackdown on helmet scofflaws. The highly-publicized campaign resulted in more than nine out of ten drivers and passengers complying with the regulation, according to the governor. In a document issued yesterday, the Phuket Provincial Health Office reported that 742 patients were admitted to government hospitals from July 20 to August 19 for motorbike-related injuries, raising the total since December 20, 1997 to 7,009 patients. Of the 742 patients admitted during the latest reporting period, 17 died of their injuries.

Phuket News
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