Phuket vice governor reports over 500 motorbike accidents in 2 months involving tourists

French motorbike racers, screen grab.

Phuket’s vice governor reported that over 500 motorbike accidents have occurred in the area involving foreign tourists in the past two months. Phuket Vice Governor Anuphap led a meeting on the increasingly pressing issue yesterday.

Anuphap said many of the accidents involved foreign tourists who had rented motorbikes. He 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.”

Anuphap added that the rental businesses were also contributing to the issue by renting motorbikes to tourists without proper documentation.

This news comes after several incidents in Phuket, mainly involving foreign racing motorcycles in Patong, have made headlines this month.

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.

Apart from racing, another motorbike incident was reported last week when Patong police busted a Frenchman for a hit-and-run after a Thai pedestrian was seriously injured. The culprit, a Frenchman named Naji Sami Bouakkz, hit a woman, 54 year old Maliwan Sarnrat, with his motorbike. Bouakkz did not stop his motorbike after hitting Maliwan.

Thailand was ranked the second most dangerous country to drive in according to a driver’s educational platform. There were 21,052 accidents in 2020, and 11,138 accidents in 2021. About 20% of accidents involved motorcycles, while 8% involved six-wheel trucks, and 8% involved trucks with at least 10 wheels.

Time will tell how Phuket’s issues with foreign motorbike riders unfold.

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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