BANGKOK – Thailand’s Royal Thai Police are hoping to introduce a penalty point system for drivers to deal with traffic offences as part of an effort to improve road safety in the country.
Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, the assistant police chief, said efforts must be made to amend traffic laws since the current light punishments do not appear to scare road offenders into changing their driving habits.
Fines, he said, tend to affect the poor more than the wealthy who can afford to speed and pay them when caught.
Police are in the process of linking traffic offences to a demerit point system which authorities would consider when renewing a driver’s licence, he said. It is unclear when police hope to introduce the new system.
According to Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn, generally, each driver would have a full 12 points.
Minor offences, including riding motorcycles without a helmet, not wearing a seatbelt and speeding over the limit, could result in the deduction of one point.
It would cost the drivers two points if they committed “moderately serious” offences, such as running a red light, driving on the wrong side of the road or driving at a speed of more than 130 kilometres per hour.
Severe traffic offences would result in the deduction of three points. These include drink driving, driving under the influence of drugs and driving at speeds of more than 160km per hour.
If all the 12 points are deducted, drivers would have their licences suspended for 90 days.
However, it has not been determined how long point deductions for various offences will last for.
“No one can help them [traffic violators] as a record [of the offence] is put into a computer database,” Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn said.
Referring to the current ticket system, he said some violators may have used connections to pay lesser penalty fees. However, the proposed penalty point system leaves no room for traffic police to exercise his or her discretion.
“If licences are suspended twice or three times, they could be withdrawn permanently,” said the assistant police chief. “If we can ensure effective law enforcement, traffic conditions will improve.”
Violators who continue to drive after being suspended would face further fines and jail time.
The Royal Thai Police (RTP) has petitioned the cabinet to amend the Land Traffic Act to include the penalty point system, according to Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn.
Those who have their licences revoked will have the option of paying to attend training courses provided by Department of Land Transport-approved driving schools to reduce the suspension period.
Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn also believes that CCTV is a more efficient way of catching offenders as it removes the temptation for motorists to offer bribes, and officers to accept them, in return for a lesser punishment or being let off the hook altogether.
The RTP is proposing the creation of an automated “Police Ticket Management” (PTM) system which will act as a central database for traffic infringements and be linked to real-time DLT data, according to Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn.
By Wassayos Ngamkham
The Bangkok Post