Patong Police swoop on street racers

Officers were stationed across Patong, photo by Patong Police.

Patong Police swooped on street racers on Monday night, following the area’s numerous problems with foreign motorbike racers. Officers were stationed across Patong after 10pm.

Meanwhile, Patong Traffic Police set up a checkpoint at the bottom of Patong Hill. Patong Police did not specify how many people were caught dangerously speeding, The Phuket News reported.

Last week, the Thai government started offering cash rewards of 3,000 baht to people who report street races. Deputy spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek said that if people see illegal street racing, they can take videos and send them to the police. People can also send any information they might have about street racers, Rachada said.

She added that informants could contact hotline numbers 191 and 1599, or send their information to the Royal Thai Police Forward Post Facebook account.

The crackdown on street racers comes after Phuket’s vice governor last week reported that over 500 motorbike accidents involving tourists had occurred in Phuket in the past two months. Phuket Vice Governor Anuphap said…

“Eighty percent of them do not have driving licenses, some were wearing swimsuits, driving at high speed, and not familiar with routes. From January to February there were more than 500 accidents involving foreign tourists.”

On the night of Wednesday, February 8, cops busted a large group of French motorbike racers in Patong. Footage of the racers went viral on local social media platforms, causing outrage among residents. The residents complained that the racers were disturbing them when they were trying to relax, and potentially posing a threat to the safety of the people. Most of the riders were not wearing the required protective motorcycle helmets as per Thai law, the residents added.

The incident became so highly publicised that on February 10, the Head of the French Consulate in Phuket met with Patong Police and Phuket Tourist Police to address the issue. During the meeting, the Head of the French Consulate received a letter of cooperation from the Patong Police, which requested the consulate to inform French tourists visiting Phuket and Thailand about the country’s traffic laws and the requirement for valid driving licenses.

The Head of the Consulate promised to pass the letter to the French Embassy in Thailand and request better communication of these rules and regulations to French tourists.

But the issue didn’t stop there. On the night of February 15, a video went viral of a fight involving foreign motorbike racers on Bangla Road. Patong Police arrested five people in connection with the fight, including two Swedish nationals and three Thais.

One of the men arrested admitted that he got involved in the fight after he warned a group of foreign motorbike racers that they weren’t allowed to ride on Bangla Road except with permission from law enforcement officers. The man said the angry racers verbally insulted the Thai men with bad language, which led to a physical fight.

Will the new cash rewards, as well as the crackdown and checkpoints by Patong Police, make an impact in solving Patong’s problem with street racing?

Phuket News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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