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Another one down: aftermath of a recent motorcycle crash in Phuket City

Phuket Merit-Maker Mowed Down by Pickup

Monday, October 18, 2010
A WOMAN walking along a Phuket roadway to give rice to monks was run over by a pickup early yesterday. She was taken to Vachira Hospital where she died about 6pm.

The tragic turn of events to the everyday merit-making gesture took place at Kuku in Phuket City soon after sunrise. The driver stopped at the scene and told police she was from another province and not familiar with the area.

The woman was the wife of a well-known Phuket news reporter for a national newspaper. The couple had a young daughter.

Latest figures made available today to Phketwan show a total of 16 deaths were recorded on Phuket's roads in September - a dramatic increase on eight deaths in August and five deaths in July.

Three people, a couple on their way to the airport and a young woman on a motorcycle who was hit by a truck near Tesco-Lotus, died on one day, September 30.

However, the total of 101 deaths to the end of September reflects a heartening improvement on the 122 deaths on Phuket's roads to the same point last year. The number of injured is also much lower.

Three months so far this year have totalled injuries of less than 1000 compared to just one month of less than 1000 injuries to the end of September last year.

Even at 1000 a month, the number of injured continues to average more than 30 a day - a telling indication of the high social cost to the Phuket community of motorcycles especially.

With new registrations showing the number of motorcycle riders continuing to increase on Phuket's roads, police and traffic authorities are doing a commendable job to continue to gain on the higher tolls of previous years.
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Comments

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The last paragraph is a joke and should not have been written by any objective reporter who is he/she kissing up to??

The only reasons for the lower number of deaths are just plan statistical variation from year to year and the fact the roads are getting so crowded that crazy drivers don't have as much opportunity to kill and injure.

Gee, add a 100,000 more people to Phuket and the traffic will come to a complete standstill all day then even fewer will die.

If your reporter lives here he/she should know that things are not getting any better stop kissing up with your articles.

Posted by mike on October 18, 2010 12:42

Editor Comment:

Mike, Yearly statistics are as reliable as it gets. Of late, consistent improvements have been made, year on year.

The more people on the roads, the safer it gets . . . Nice one, Mike.

Who are we supposedly ''kissing up'' to? Any logic to your argument vanishes with your irrational attempt to find ulterior motives.

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So is the claimed lower rate of crashes adjusted to the new rate of motorcycles registered?
PW ridiculed me once for suggesting mandatory helmets were wrong, but fact is they impair hearing and vision and if you aren't use to it, it can be a dangerous distraction.

Posted by Horse Doctor on October 18, 2010 12:58

Editor Comment:

Horse Doctor, we didn't ridicule you, we said your arguments don't stand close examination. You also said helmets could obscure the vision of speeding motorcyclists . . . all of it absolutely ridiculous.

The death toll is in lives, as always. It doesn't need to be ''adjusted to the new rate of motorcycles registered.'' Caring people understand that.

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helmets do not improve road safety one bit. the helmet may help you live from a serious accident if is more then just a plastic bucket. in no way do helmets prevent accidents....

Posted by john s on October 18, 2010 13:15

Editor Comment:

Helmets do not prevent road accidents. But quality helmets do save lives. Putting one on reminds riders that safety is a consideration.

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Condolences to the deceased, sorry for your loss.

But with regards to the last paragraph in the article, what exactly are Police doing that is commendable?

Posted by Lee on October 18, 2010 13:27

Editor Comment:

Removing accident blackspots, broadening a campaign in schools and colleges to educate students about road safety, widening their highly-praised campaign to enforce the wearing of motorcycle helmets, continuing to fine or arrest errant riders and drivers at checkpoints . . . a search on Phuketwan will turn up more articles.

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please show me where a moving violations has been ticketed????? speeding? reckless driving? driving on the opposite side of the road? no head or tail lights? running red lights? the no look left hand turn? parking in lanes?
yes no helmet, no license, and no registration. ticketed at roadblocks.

enforcing wearing a helmet does not make the road safer.

Posted by john s on October 18, 2010 13:45

Editor Comment:

What you are talking about is a standard of road safety that Thailand - and Phuket - has not yet reached. So what? Lives are now being saved. A corner has been turned - wearing a helmet. If you have evidence that the compulsory wearing of motorcycle helmets does not reduce deaths and injuries, please produce it. The point is that Phuket's roads are safer because of what the police are now doing, yet you hold up pears-and-apples examples. Why not accept that progress is being made? Lives are being saved . . . and that seems to make you unhappy. You, Ellen, and Horse Doctor need to cease your unreal expectations, and your unfair criticism, and appreciate the steady improvements. Lives ARE being s-a-v-e-d.

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I live in Chalong, I know that is not Phuket City, but when I see Police driving their children to school, with the child in front of them, as many as 2-3 children, and the rider (Police Officer) wearing a soft cap and the children wearing no helmets, that is a concern. Police passing bikes where the riders have no helmets? But no one is ever pulled over. Police riding with no helmets? And they are to enforce the law? Police riding past bikes that are in the wrong lane and do nothing?

Posted by Lee on October 18, 2010 13:59

Editor Comment:

As you know, the campaign has yet to spread south from Phuket City to Chalong. We will make sure that your concern is carried to Phuket's Police Commander, who is overseeing the island-wide compulsory helmet campaign in the new year. Expect to see changes from January 1.

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editor....no its not apples and pears. "continuing to fine or arrest errant riders and drivers at checkpoints . . . a search on Phuketwan will turn up more articles." where????

fining for helmets? registration? no license? really how does this make the road safer???? when everyday i see reckless driving, speeding, running red lights, no lights, underage teenagers, commercial trucks/buses unsafe, and the list goes on and on. i have never witnessed/seen a moving violation. have you? these are things that are needed to make the roads safer. not enforcing helmet and registrations to line pockets. so pass that onto the police as well.

yes i give credit where and when it is do.

Posted by john s on October 18, 2010 15:16

Editor Comment:

I can't do your searches for you, or guide your comprehension of the differences between a developing country and a developed country. Apples, pears. Most people can see, feel and taste the difference. Phuket has a small police force without the equipment to sustain road traffic violation pursuits. So they now concentrate where efforts do most good - education and awareness, in schools and on the roads. And on helmet safety.

Pass it on yourself.

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Is this pick on Editor Day?

Obviously there is a reduction in the number of deaths on the roads and it is reduced further, percentage-wise, when you factor in the YOY increase in registrations.

I only wish that people would stop and think back to what life was like in their own countries 50 or so years ago.

I remember as a child growing up in Australia riding in the backs of utes (pick-ups, people driving whilst intoxicated, people not wearing seat belts and we rode bicycles (without helmets) to school every day and in hindsight, we had the same scant respect for road rules as the Thais do today.

Today in Australia none of the above are tolerated. But this change did not happen overnight it was a very gradual and complex process. It is a generational change, and it starts with road safety being taught in primary schools.

Posted by Whispering Jack on October 18, 2010 15:44

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editor. i am questioning your statements and facts.
"continuing to fine or arrest errant riders and drivers at checkpoints . . . a search on Phuketwan will turn up more articles."
where are they? i don't seem to see anything.

Posted by john s on October 18, 2010 16:22

Editor Comment:

Get someone to help you, john. I don't have the time or the interest in running your life. Empower yourself, please.

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continuing to fine or arrest errant riders and drivers at checkpoints . . . a search on Phuketwan will turn up more articles.

so i can assume your statement is false without backing. are your not the editor? should have easy access to post this information as you say you have.

Posted by john s on October 18, 2010 16:44

Editor Comment:

john, most people know how to do a search. The information is there . . . all you have to do is look for it. This is your fifth post, and your last one on this topic. I'm afraid I have more deserving aspects of life to pursue.

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It is sad to see this happen on daily basis, I am not saying that Thailand have to do like western countries where the training in driving is on the actual road that they will be using in the future and not only on a field with some cones standing around it. Ofcourse you start with the basic on the field and advance to the city, high road, nightdrive and so on. I spent many hours behind the wheel before the exam and it does save lives (yours and others.) Getting a licenced trainers and some kind of scheme for taking driving licence should be introduced but who am I to say that...

Posted by With licence from abroad on October 18, 2010 20:07

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Whispering Jack - you have a valid point. And most posters here have the right idea, rather than take on board the peddled rubbish from the police and media.
What people forget is that Thailand has virtually all the up-to-date legislation and rules to apply the same standards of road safety as in our 'home' countries. The issue here is that those put in charge of ensuring drivers abide by the laws on the statute book don't give a hoot about being proactive in stopping those offences like john s has listed. Never mind waiting until January, or any other indeterminate time in the future, they could do it tomorrow, if they so desired. Given that learner drivers sit through driver theory sessions during their test, what more should there be to learn?

Posted by Carl on October 19, 2010 14:16

Editor Comment:

This is your second post, and your second tag, Carl. If you want to be taken seriously, how about giving us the same consistency in approach you appear to be demanding of police.

Whatever did happen to Bert?

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My, you do have some good software at your disposal. Carl Bertram is the name, and I get 'Bert' for short, sometimes. That was trivial and silly, editor, and totally inappropriate to compare my proper name, nickname, and the ethics of police around here.

Posted by Carl / Bert on October 19, 2010 14:31

Editor Comment:

I didn't mention ethics. All I asked for was ''the same consistency in approach'' you appear to be demanding of police. Thanks for clarifying the issue.

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Well Mr. Editor while driving on a small two lane road in Phuket town behind two Road patrol Officers I was passed by a typical crazy driver over a solid yellow line. He caused oncoming motorbikes to slow and pull off the road to avoid hitting him. I honked my horn as he was passing so that the back officer would look to see his stunt well he did and they slowed to ask me why I honked my horn. I pointed out the crazy driver who had just passed breaking the law they both shrugged their shoulders and went on their way not giving the crazy driver a second look as they passed him at the next light so please don't use statistics as the sole barometer of how things are getting better or worse and praise the police in the process unless your willing to ridicule them when the numbers go the other way.

Posted by Mike on October 19, 2010 18:27

Editor Comment:

Have I read this tale before on another site, a site i haven't visited for a year or more? Mike, everyone has their individual tales to relate about deficiencies in the policing of traffic offences on Phuket and in Thailand. Statistics always tell a more complete and rounded story, even if you prefer to cling to your anecdote. To base your opinion on one incident is to blinker your point of view. The statistics are the most reliable evidence - and the statistics show marked improvements. I am not about to ridicule anyone, except for a few people who, as racist extremists, deserve to be ridiculed.

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So if I pick one month and say statistically that month was the deadliest in the last five years that makes for a better debate? My argument was not against the statistics but to take the statistics and say what the police are doing caused them is a total leap into the twilight zone. This morning I ran a red light along with some motorbikes right in front of a police patrol motorbike, their reaction to this was they did nothing, standard operating procedure.

Posted by mike on October 20, 2010 11:27

Editor Comment:

Mike, the worst month I can recall was 26 dead, back in 2003. Since then, especially over the past three years, the toll has been commendably reduced. It looks like being down again this year. The police are doing a good job. The evidence is plain.

You ran a red light? Well, that's a commitment to the cause of road safety.

Look, there will never be the same kind of pursuit of sinners on the roads of Phuket for one simple reason - it would cause more deaths than it prevented. Do you realise the risks in a high-speed chase on the good roads of an Australian or a British or a US city? You could multiply those by a factor of 20 on Phuket's chaotic, crowded roads. The police are doing the right thing. No point in bringing Western ideas to Asia and imagining they will all work just as well here.

Can we move on, please? I don't think you have an argument.

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Last time I visited the site, "Editor" had just begun the process of rebuttal to comments. Only a few months later, I have to ask - got a headache yet? Imagine a year from now.

On the topic of road safety, yes, any effort at improvement is a good thing, but indeed, the writing in the past had had a trend of not being 100% objective.

But that's more to do with actual experience as a writer, and having to close out articles in a way that sums things up in general. The cops could just sit by and watch the roads of Phuket descend into chaos, but they don't.

They try to effect some order upon the culture they live in, in the context in which that culture exists, right now, today.

Anything else will just escalate the impulse toward criminality. Take for instance the "side road" everyone from Kata uses to bypass the "haa yaak" Chalong Circle because they don't somehow comply with the law (helmet, three or more passengers, no license, on the lam, etc.).

It's accepted, you could have a major discourse just on that subject alone. It's the drivers of trucks who seem to be killing everyone, one day they'll get around to some solutions, but the Editor here is as helpless as anyone at invoking the kinds of change you are insisting on.

Posted by JingJing on October 20, 2010 22:55

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It could have been one more to the tally. Someone ran a red light last week during the middle of the light.

I hit him in the side, he was able to just keep driving. 5000 baht damage to my bike but my full face helmet saved my life.

I have to admit that sometimes I don't wear it when I'm driving locally but the new laws and my cheapness have made me wear it all the time and it truly saved my melon.

Idiots will always drive like idiot and helmets will likely save lives and help these statistics. Thanks Index for making a solid helmet and good luck light runner, your time is coming.

Posted by Jon on October 21, 2010 14:07

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You just lost a reader. I am tired of seeing your blog report opinion as fact, and argue and snob your readers via comments. The numbers fall within a standard deviation and show no real statistical signs of being lower. Also police have done very little... you can see police on mopeds/trucks drive on the wrong side of the street, run red lights, and do all of the traffic violations that cause accidents. You can watch all day long as others do the same violations in front of the police with out being stopped/fined. They are great at roadblocks checking for helmet, insurance, DUI but that's as far as their road law enforcement goes.

Posted by Chris on November 1, 2010 10:07

Editor Comment:

Chris, The police approach has made a significant impact on the road toll, and incident ''blackspots'' are being corrected with better road signage and slow-down indicators. Deaths peaked a few years back, before motorcyclists switched on their lights during daytime. Songkran on Phuket was once one of the most dangerous times on the roads: now it's one of the safest. I don't see the abuses by police you claim to see, but I don't deny there are some violations from time to time. You will never see police pursue traffic violators - because on Phuket, any high-speed chase would create chaos and lead to innocent deaths. You reject the statistics, preferring your own anecdotal account. Sorry, we'll stick with reporting the figures.

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I think that many foreigners live outside of Phuket Town. Please try to get a look at the behaviour of the drivers in the town, or how Police works there: look like an other country if compared to the Chalong district (Kata, Karon and expecially Rawai): the latter is far-worse. The civilitazion need time and just few years of well-being (not more than 10) come from tourism can't improve generations of ignorance (all the rich and educated family lived in the town, the farmers in the country). It's like north and south Italy. Impossible to ride a bike without helmet in the north: police stop you in two minutes. In the deep south is a mess. It's only a question of culture.

Posted by Dave on November 1, 2010 12:24


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