Thursday, January 19, 2012

Phuket Police to Crack Down on Impaired Driving By Visitors

I'm hopeful that my frequent postings on the high fatality rate amongst foreign tourists in Phuket [Thailand] while riding two-wheeled motorized vehicles, often while impaired by alcohol, are making a small dent in what is becoming a crisis.

Yesterday (January 18) authorities on Phuket announced that they were launching a campaign against drink-driving after statistics reveal the connection between road deaths and injuries and excessive alcohol consumption, particularly amongst foreigners who rent motorbikes and motorcycles.

The Phuket road safety campaign will begin with a public meeting of bar, restaurant and nightclub owners to ask them to refuse service to people who have had too much to drink. Increased police attention to places where excessive drinking is NOT discouraged, particularly for impaired tourists who drive or ride while drinking, as part of the 2012 campaign.

COMMENT: Authorities have reported that alcohol was the number one factor in 82% of road fatalities in the Kathu district, which includes Patong, Karon, Kamala and Kata; 40% of those in Thalang district; and 65% of those in the Phuket City Amphur district.

The statistics simply confirm what expats have long suspected - that the freewheeling approach to drinking and driving by both riders and drivers and law enforcement officials results in needless deaths and injuries.

The recent 'Seven Days of Danger' campaign produced a new statistic: Along with six deaths, there were 475 injuries, and 84% of the incidents were related to motorcycles.

Police statistics reveal 21 deaths on Phuket roads between October and December, 2011, with 13 people ''very seriously'' injured and 28 others injured.

Although admittedly the absence of an inexpensive public transport system in Phuket causes unnecessary deaths because visitors are forced to use motorcycles, what the Thai government has NOT addressed as yet is the following: (1) Requiring the renters of motorbikes and motorcycles to show proof of having a valid two-wheeled vehicle license from another country; (2) Required all motorcycle and motorbike renters to wear helmets; (3) pass a law that permits police to impound all motorized vehicles if they're proved to be driving impaired; and (4) Requiring police to aggressively stop all two-wheeled vehicle riders that are riding unsafely and determine whether they are properly licenses, wearing helmets and are not driving while impaired or intoxicated.

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