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Legal or illegal: motorcyclists will find out soon

Phuket Police Crack Down on Mobile Mobile Users

Wednesday, May 7, 2008
PHUKET police will crack down on people using mobile telephones as they ride motorcycles and drive cars from May 8.

The campaign is part of a national focus to improve road safety, especially on motorcycles.

While police in Bangkok will impose fines from Thursday, Phuket police will initially warn motorcycle riders and car drivers.

From May 19, island officers will impose fines, too.

The fine can vary from 400 baht to 1000 baht. The law was introduced last year and now police have decided that it should be properly enforced.

Another aspect of mobile use is also coming under intense scrutiny. Mobile telephones and cameras have been banned from cinemas to prevent copyright piracy at movie house screenings.

While the law has been passed, the new government is waiting for formal authorisation before acting to enforce it.

Thailand's long love affair with the motorcycle has been matched by a pasionate fling with the mobile phone. The take-up rate has far outpaced adoption of the Internet, for example.

Most Thai adults now seem to carry a telephone everywhere they go, and plenty of school children have them, too.

With Thailand's population at almost 62.5 million, that's a lot of mobile chatter.

A single company, AIS, expects to sell 8.5 million mobile telephones in 2008 and another nine million in 2009.

It's been said that some Thais see motorcycles as a useful invention to make a couple of vanity mirrors easily transportable.

Some islanders are able to check their hairstyle and chat to a friend on a mobile while travelling the wrong way or going through the red light at an intersection.

Such sightings may become less frequent now as the police pursue the mobile mobile users.

It is not clear yet, though, whether the crafty motorcyclists who tuck their mobile telephone into the chinstrap of their helmets are legal or illegal.

Some frequent mobile telephone users consider that to be the reason why helmets were invented.

People who are pulled over at police checkpoints from now on should finish their mobile conversations quickly.

There is one satisfactory answer: hands-free sets are ok, according to the new law.

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