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Taking the guns and knives from Phuket's cowboys would save lives

Planet Phuket: Road Rage Shouldn't Be Deadly

Sunday, January 31, 2010
Planet Phuket News Analysis

THE KILLING of an expat on Phuket this week seems to be a classic case of road rage, with the outcome of the confrontation being a tragic death that will continue to impact on both families.

If ever there was a case that shows why Phuket is now a city and no longer a town, this is it.

Provincial towns do not have traffic that provokes stress to the point where people come to deadly blows. Cities do.

In nearly all respects, Phuket is one big ''city,'' with gridlock zones and suburban areas where traffic flows more smoothly. Phuket, the city, can only grow larger now.

Earlier in the week, Phuketwan reported another case of road rage where a man pulled out a sword and waved it at other motorists. The police were informed and were given the vehicle's registration number. But they did nothing.

Road rage. How close many of us come to it, in an instant, no matter how calm we usually are.

Shouting and cursing at other motorists and drivers is difficult to resist at times, given that Phuket traffic is a little bit more chaotic than most traffic in other cities.

Care and consideration are important. But the other key point is this: If the man involved in the stabbing had not been carrying a concealed weapon, would the expat be alive today?

And would the man who used the knife, a familiar face to many tourists, be facing a long term in jail?

The answer is that without the weapon, the men may have wrestled and even come to blows, but the likelihood is that both would still be alive and free today.

Perhaps, in a worst-case outcome, they would both be liable for a court appearance and face small fines for their bad behavior in traffic.

In both cases of road rage on Phuket that Phuketwan reported this week, one point was perfectly plain: weapons and traffic do not go together.

We may all be subject to the extremes of emotion that breaches of etiquette and rules sometimes trigger on the roads. Little can be done to change that, beyond self-control

But the weapons are what can and must be removed from the equation.

While a person may possess a knife or even a licensed handgun at home for personal protection, to carry a weapon on the streets is to put everyone at risk.

As one of the victims in the first case of road rage asked afterwards: ''What if he had wounded someone with the sword? What if he had been waving a gun?''

Bangkok charity foundation workers are surprised at the high number of knives and guns found in vehicles involved in collisions in the city.

Phuket is no different to the capital now.

Ourbreaks of road rage, with weapons being produced, waved and used, is a sign that Phuket police need to go into action. Officers should not just wave away those who complain about what's potentially a deadly breach of the law.

From Monday morning, a thorough search of all people and vehicles stopped at all checkpoints on Phuket becomes essential. The checks need to be comprehensive, not half-hearted.

Let's take the weapons out of the road rage equation.

Removing the guns from the gloveboxes and confiscating the concealed knives in pockets would be a good start to ensure more Phuket city dwellers get to their destinations safely.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


Funny you say "Phuket is no different to the capital now". Five days ago, I was saying to one of the taximen I use, one who had taken me to the airport for a flight to Bangkok three weeks ago, how much saner, safer traffic feels, effectively speedier traffic is, there compared to Phuket. (Not to mention, since I was in a taxi, the cost difference.)

Posted by donmphkt on January 31, 2010 15:33


A few years ago I was having a dispute with a tuktuk driver over change for a trip when he "showed" me a gun in his glove box. Never used a tuktuk since. Makes you wonder how many other drivers carry weapons in their vehicles and presumably by carrying them they are prepared to use them.

Posted by Rex on January 31, 2010 18:18

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