PHUKET: A senior policeman in Phuket told the Gazette today that Thailand’s poor economy is having at least one good effect – it has reduced the road accident rate. Pol Lt Col Teerapol Thipjaroen, deputy superintendent of Phuket Town Police Station, said, “There are a number of factors that have led to a fall in the accident rate, but one of the major ones is that, with the economy the way it is, people are less able to afford to travel or to buy alcohol.” In 1996, 10,317 people died or were injured in car or motorcycle accidents in Phuket. Last year, despite the steadily increasing number of vehicles on the island’s roads, the death and injury tally was 10,452. So far, the figures for this year are also in line with previous years. Pol Lt Col Teerapol said another factor containing the road toll was that police were now enforcing the law strictly. “Whenever we set up a road block to check driving licenses, most people can produce them. This shows that people understand the traffic laws better than before.” Asked what was likely to happen when the economy recovers, Pol Lt Col Teerapol said, “If it does, and the number of vehicles increases, and the roads are still bad, and there are no plans to solve the problem, then the accident rate will increase.” This year, up to July 20, 105 people on motorcycles and eight in cars died in road accidents. A total of 5,691 on motorcycles were injured, while 322 were hurt in cars. Between June 20 and July 20 there were 13 deaths, 11 of them involving motorcycles. Of the 917 injured, 856 were on motorcycles.
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