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Aftermath of a motorcycle mishap in Phuket City this year

Phuket's Road Deaths, Drownings Lower in 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010
HELMETS and drownings have been the life-and-death issues on Phuket this year, with latest figures showing that the struggle to avoid needless fatalities continues to be won . . . slowly.

From January 1, all Phuket police stations will coordinate to enforce the compulsory helmet law for the first time. Tourists who in the past have enjoyed the sunshine on their heads will have to cover up or face police action.

All riders and pillion passengers caught without helmets from January 1 will have to attend a Phuket road safety movie screening - and face increasingly heavy fines to the maximum of 1000 baht if they offend again.

Checkpoints around Patong especially will also be on the lookout for drunk-driving this festive holiday season, the Superintendent of Kathu Police Station, Colonel Arayapan Pukbuakao, said today.

Newly-released statistics show there were 15 deaths on Phuket roads in November, and four drownings around the island. The total of road fatalities to December 1 stood at 127, 10 fewer than at the same time last year.

The likelihood is that the 2009 total of 153 will be beaten this year. Police have been actively targetting blackspots and altering road conditions at the most hazardous.

The Chief Executive of the Phuket Provincial Administrative Organisation, Paiboon Upatising, believes there are plenty of roads on Phuket, though, that could do with fresh yellow paint to define the central road strips and encourage safer motoring.

He also believes Phuket's honorary consuls should play a role in safety at Phuket's beaches. There were four drownings on Phuket in November, taking the toll for the year to December 1 to 32.

It's an improvement on 2009, when 53 drowned during the whole year - including six tourists and a Thai cook who perished when the Dive Asia liveaboard capsized in a storm.

There has been no tragedy on that scale in 2010, but needless drownings continue, especially at Karon beach.

''The honorary consuls should warn people to look for the red flags and not to swim if they see them flying,'' Khun Paiboon said. Pressure from honorary consuls might also help some resorts to provide adequate warnings in appropriate languages as guests check in.

There's a resistance to be warned by some who have paid for a beach holiday and intend to enjoy it, even if conditions are unsafe.

Indeed, lifeguards at one Phuket beach recently reported seeing a tourist actually pull out a red flag.

And some Patong beach vendors and at least one jet-ski operator have also been known to dispose of warning flags in their vicinity.

Khun Paiboon did add that the plan was now to have lifeguards on Phuket's beaches all year long rather than only part of the year, and that he was pleased with the improvement that had become evident with the Lifeguard Club of Phuket since late April.

Phuketwan supports the Phuket road safety action group, Mothers or Motorcycles (MoM).
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Comments

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I hope the Police will indeed permanently enforce the helmet law island-wide and not just for the first 2 weeks as happened in Phuket town.

Helmets are no cure for irresponsible driving but they save lives. Enough said.

I'm not quite sure though how Khun Paiboon wishes the HCs to influence the tourists. They do not, as default, have contact with tourists on a daily basis but only in certain circumstances.

I can imagine they could translate a warning leaflet to their native language that would then be handed out to tourists arriving at the airport.

The 3 point warning system proposed earlier by PW is in my opinion a very effective way to inform tourists.

Posted by Chris on December 22, 2010 16:38

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Helmets - there have been some good initiatives this year in the local community. BUT the helmet law needs to be applied 24/7, with perhaps harsher penalties applied. 300 Baht fine means nothing. I am rather amused to note the following quote:

"From January 1, all Phuket police stations will coordinate to enforce the compulsory helmet law for the first time. Tourists who in the past have enjoyed the sunshine on their heads will have to cover up or face police action."

Tourists? Not local people? Law of the land has to apply to all. Lives can be saved by wearing a helmet. Main target group needs to be young local Thais - you know the ones who like to speed around looking "cool". Until they hit a cement truck at high speed.

Beaches and drownings... Phuket IS a year round destination, but every visitor needs to be made aware of the dangers. There is so much more to Phuket and the surrounding area than just beaches. Low season, when most problems occur you can get a nice hotel room for a bargain price... a nice hotel, with a pool. Swim in the pool. A simple message like "during the low season, the beaches can be unsafe for swimming, please do not ignore the red flags" - all hotels and travel agents should tell people this. It will also save lives.

Hoping 2011 sees a continuing decline in fatalities which can be prevented with a little education and a little common sense.

Posted by Jamie on December 22, 2010 22:11


Monday August 19, 2019
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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