Phuket crash helmet campaign: fines start July 1, 2011

PHUKET: The public awareness part of the Phuket City Police “100% motorcycle helmet use” campaign will run another full year before offenders will face fines, it has been announced.

The campaign, which began in April, is intended to bring helmet use in Phuket City Police District to 100%, both among operators and their passengers.

July 1 this year was initially set to be the ‘D-Day’ when police would begin fining all offenders, but when the day came Phuket City Police Superintendent Wanchai Ekpornpit unveiled a surprising new tactic: rather than fine offenders, police confiscated their licenses and held them until the offender viewed a locally-produced movie showing graphic images of road accident victims.

The results have been a marked increase in helmet use in Phuket City Police District, which also includes Wichit and Rassada municipalities as well as tambon Koh Kaew.

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Snr Sgt Maj Phaisan Rodthieng of the Phuket City Police Traffic told the Gazette that 1,432 people viewed the movie between July 3 and July 30. The offenders represented a vast cross section of society, with people involved in nearly every type of occupation included.

He estimated that there are about 70 people whose licenses are being held that have yet to view it.

The number of viewers has been decreasing. A total of 396 people in total attended viewings on the first two days, but the figure had fallen to 66 viewers on July 30.

Col Wanchai told the Gazette the reduction in the number of offenders was a positive sign, but he was concerned that helmet use still seems to decrease after dark.

I’d like to tell them that we are continuing to check people at night, so please wear your helmets. It is for your own good,” he said.

The movie campaign will continue for one year, until July 1, 2011, at which time we will begin to fine offenders,” he said.

Thai traffic law states that both drivers and passengers without helmets can be fined up to 500 baht. A driver transporting a passenger not wearing a helmet is subject to an additional fine of up to 1,000 baht.

The law has seldom been enforced for passengers, but Col Wanchai is on a mission to see that change in the area under his control.

The campaign has won national acclaim. Soon after its launch, visiting Deputy Interior Minister Thavorn Senniam said he would encourage police departments across the South to launch similar projects.

Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop, who is also pleased with the effort, has reportedly asked other police districts on the island to follow suit.

Road accident statistics released by Phuket City Police show a significant reduction in the number of road accidents year-on-year, from 131 in July, 2009 to 106 in July, 2010.

There were seven dead and 130 injured in road accidents in July 2009 compared to six dead and 47 injured in July, 2010.

In both periods the vast majority of those injured and killed were on motorbikes.

— Sitthipong Nongkaew

Phuket News
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