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Driving licence uproar unmasks character flaws


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Driving licence uproar unmasks character flaws

By The Nation

 

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As long as we as a society tend to shun the rules, the roads will never be safe

 

The new traffic law has not even been enforced yet but has already exposed at least three woeful habits among Thais. 

 

The law will require every motorist to have a valid licence at hand while on the road. If you can’t produce one, you could be fined up to Bt50,000 and maybe even go to jail. 

 

The fine at least should seem reasonable, but the social media are in uproar at the possibility of rising police corruption. The cops do take bribes and that’s an awful practice. 

 

Citizens tend to disregard the law when they think they can get away with it, and that too is a terrible but all-too-common trait. The third flaw revealed in our national character is the tendency to attempt unsystematic legal solutions. 

 

The proposed law boosts the top-level fine for being unable to produce a driver’s licence to Bt10,000 from Bt1,000. 

 

If your licence is expired or been revoked or suspended, the penalty is up to three months in prison and a Bt50,000 fine. (The policymakers believe the word “maximum” allows for leniency.)

 

The public’s concern that police could demand bribes from drivers who cannot produce a licence stems from the common perception that cops are corrupt and opportunistic.

 

Whenever a new law involving public order has been proposed, one of the chief criticisms is that it will give the law enforcers more opportunities to collect bribes. But police officers couldn’t demand bribes if people were obeying the law in the first place. 

 

And there is no denying the wisdom of a law requiring that a valid driver’s licence be ready to show police on request. It’s a means of protecting public safety.

 

No one needs fret if they’ve forgotten their wallet at home and that’s where the licence is. The punishment is unlikely to be applied as long as they can produce the licence soon, for the cop who pulled them over or at a police station somewhere.

 

Bribery feeds on the tendency to disregard the law. 

 

The outcry about police corruption can be traced to the typical Thai habits of driving without a licence, buying cars for underage youths, perhaps as a reward, and ignoring the rules that apply once a licence is seized or suspended.

 

The proposed heavier penalties would of course hit underprivileged people worst, and sometimes they do need to drive without a licence. For them, Bt10,000 could but several months’ supply of food, and it is they who are the most susceptible to abuse by dishonest policemen. 

 

This brings us the third nasty habit we share and underscores the need for multiple aspects of society to be revamped, most notably the justice system and our public transport network with its grave shortfalls.

 

In a fair and efficient society, anyone anywhere should be able to get a driving licence quickly and either free of charge or at minimal cost. When the procedure is slow and difficult, involving considerable time and challenging tests, the result will be an enormous number of people driving illegally, many of them too poor in time and money to find an alternative.

 

Effective solutions are possible. But the requirements are daunting. It would take understanding and vision among policymakers and changes in social attitudes regarding safety and public order.   

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30353017

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2018-08-27
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Forget about licences as they're only a formality and a piece of paper and has nothing to do with the abilities of a person to drive,

it has a lot to do with traffic flows and rules, where many narrow roads should be one way rather than 2 ways, all right hand turns from small sois and driveways should be prohibited as the ther force traffic flowing in both directions, road barriers that put up today are moved few days later, bad design of roads where entries and exits are crossing each other too soon and many, many more issues that when culminated together create problems...

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This new law is typical of the Thai bureaucratic mentality; make a new law, introduce HUGE penalties for a violation, and allow "law-enforcement" officers the leeway to manage it. This system does not work well.

 

Does this new law ensure that Thais will become better drivers? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will follow traffic laws? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will wear helmets?? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will drive on the proper side of the road? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will wear a seat belt? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will limit the number of people on a bike? Nope.

 

I could go on, but the point is made.

 

What will this law actually do?

 

It will give the police yet another leverage point whereby they can extort money.

 

I am all with the Thai people who are complaining. If you want to ensure better driving on Thai roads (and I hope all do!), then this measure doesn't do anything to achieve that goal. It is simply another outlet for bureaucracy, bribery and booty.

 

Why not force the police too get out of their offices occasionally and patrol the roads to ensure that drivers are driving well? That strikes me as a better solution...

 

 

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40 minutes ago, webfact said:

police officers couldn’t demand bribes if people were obeying the law in the first place. 

Surely you can break the law by accident?  If this happens one expects punishment in the form of a fine; court approved and honestly administered.  One does not expect a demand for 500 baht as I was yesterday by a cop who pulled me because I wandered out of my lane, not knowing the road & being 400 kms from home.  I paid a reduced 300 rather than surrender my licence & have to return to collect it.

This new law will merely put up the going rate for police bribes & do nothing to reduce the daily road kill.

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I agree that 50k seems excessive, esp in upcountry areas. BUT laws are meant to be followed as well as enforced and the status quo will not improve anything. Ensuring everyone is licensed also ensures that they have at least gone through some rudimentary test/training.

 

The bribery issue is a separate issue, that needs to be dealt with separately. 

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Get the teenage kids and children off the damn motorcycles, and get those damned blasted motorcycles with sidecars off the road too...those rolling living rooms are a menace in themselves... and they carry everything but the kitchen sink.

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

The proposed heavier penalties would of course hit underprivileged people worst, and sometimes they do need to drive without a licence.

Even an alleged responsible newspaper now seems to be condoning breaking the law.

 

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When the procedure is slow and difficult, involving considerable time and challenging tests, the result will be an enormous number of people driving illegally, many of them too poor in time and money to find an alternative.

 

Challenging test "really" no hope left here?

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

In a fair and efficient society, anyone anywhere should be able to get a driving licence quickly and either free of charge or at minimal cost.

I disagree. For the correct and proper use of a vehicle on a public road a person needs to learn every aspect of the rules and regulations, remember them and reproduce them when driving. Getting it quickly has been the problem for 30 years, 500b under the table, no training. As for minimal cost if you want drivers to learn all the habits and abilities to drive safely you must expect the experts teaching them to be paid, so if you want cheap then the govt is going to have to subsidise the costs.

And the police as law enforcers? Please.... 

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1 hour ago, Samui Bodoh said:

This new law is typical of the Thai bureaucratic mentality; make a new law, introduce HUGE penalties for a violation, and allow "law-enforcement" officers the leeway to manage it. This system does not work well.

 

Does this new law ensure that Thais will become better drivers? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will follow traffic laws? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will wear helmets?? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will drive on the proper side of the road? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will wear a seat belt? Nope.

Does this new law ensure that Thais will limit the number of people on a bike? Nope.

 

I could go on, but the point is made.

 

What will this law actually do?

 

It will give the police yet another leverage point whereby they can extort money.

 

I am all with the Thai people who are complaining. If you want to ensure better driving on Thai roads (and I hope all do!), then this measure doesn't do anything to achieve that goal. It is simply another outlet for bureaucracy, bribery and booty.

 

Why not force the police too get out of their offices occasionally and patrol the roads to ensure that drivers are driving well? That strikes me as a better solution...

 

 

This law is made for the farang. The farang on holiday will pay 50,000 to the courts and be in jail and thai people will pay the cop 500 bht. This new law is exactly as you say. Not going to do anything the make thailand safer on the road.

 

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

...stems from the common perception that cops are corrupt and opportunistic.

Perception? Surely you mean 'fact'.

 

2 hours ago, webfact said:

But police officers couldn’t demand bribes if people were obeying the law in the first place

Ummm...not true. Corrupt police officers can and will do whatever they want.

 

2 hours ago, webfact said:

typical Thai habits of driving without a licence, buying cars for underage youths, 

The first point is "typical" - the second, not so much. This writer lives in a bit of a bubble I think.

 

2 hours ago, webfact said:

The proposed heavier penalties would of course hit underprivileged people worst, and sometimes they do need to drive without a licence.

Why?

 

2 hours ago, webfact said:

When the procedure is slow and difficult, involving considerable time and challenging tests

That's how other countries remain out of the top spot for road fatalities. Worthwhile goals often require hard work. And spare me the "Thailand is a poor country" crap - there are 102 countries with lower GDP per capita (i.e. "poorer") than Thailand and they're all managing to "lose" to Thailand in the road safety race.

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34 minutes ago, LazySlipper said:

Get the teenage kids and children off the damn motorcycles, and get those damned blasted motorcycles with sidecars off the road too...those rolling living rooms are a menace in themselves... and they carry everything but the kitchen sink.

I agree with you about children on motorcycles. Motorcycles with sidecars? Almost invariably they trundle slowly along the left-hand side of the road, causing ,at most, a couple of minutes inconvenience to anyone behind them. They are often an integral art of the local economy...

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

The cops do take bribes and that’s an awful practice.

I think they've missed a few letters on the word awful. Should be preceeded with the letters unl.?

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I can't read Thai, so I am unable to get the picture on what is happening on social media. But I am wondering whether there aren't many people thinking, as I do, that 10000 Bahts for being unable to produce, on the spot, the valid license you possess is out of proportion, while 50000 driving without having a valid license is just about right. But where the thing gets really problematic is when come to realise that police would have to fine 50000 to 9 years old boys driving the motorbike they got for their birthday.

Also if the 10000 fine gets implemented they will have to implement a 100000 fine for DUI, speeding, running red lights, etc.

And last and not least, many people still get licenses "after hours" at some DLT offices, for a very reasonable fee.

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

Driving licence uproar unmasks character flaws

Unmasks character flaws? Those flaws have been unmasked for the last two decades to anyone with even partial sight!

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2 hours ago, mikebell said:

Surely you can break the law by accident?  If this happens one expects punishment in the form of a fine; court approved and honestly administered.  One does not expect a demand for 500 baht as I was yesterday by a cop who pulled me because I wandered out of my lane, not knowing the road & being 400 kms from home.  I paid a reduced 300 rather than surrender my licence & have to return to collect it.

This new law will merely put up the going rate for police bribes & do nothing to reduce the daily road kill.

So you paid the cop 300thb thereby contributing to the problem you are complaining about. If you had not paid what was going to happen he fine you, you go to bank or police station pay fine no contribution to police benefit fund.  You are not required by law to give police your licence only court can take licence from you. You are required to show police your licence for the purposes of I.D. and to check your details they cannot confiscate your licence.  And you wonder why police corruption is so rife!!!!!!

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Seems to me the people complaining the most are the ones who break the law and then blame the police for taking bribes. For a start all the rice farmers complaining about the new fines wouldn't it be cheaper to get a licence than pay bribery or a legitimate fine, or if you haven't got the money how did you afford the vehicle in the first place similarly where did the money come from for your son/daughters bike/car come from, if you can afford the vehicle you can afford the running costs that go with it eg fines, So stop bitching and get on with life and that applies to all the Thai that complain about the new laws, if you didn't break them in the first place you wouldn't be bitching!!!

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The overriding Thai philosophy about laws and rules was demonstrated by one of my recent conversations with a well known Thai friend. We were talking about starting a business and I mentioned a number of laws and rules that must be complied with: his response was "This is Thailand, not the western country. We do not need to comply until we are caught, then we  make false statements to get out of the problem." Needless today I declined to participate. 

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Remember the 17 year old girl who killed 9 people while driving her Honda Civic? Im sure that anyone with more than 2 braincells would agree that when you drive a vehicle without liscense or insurance, it's become a weapon. 50k is very lenient, try to do this in Switzerland or Singapore.

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

But police officers couldn’t demand bribes if people were obeying the law in the first place. 

That's b/s. I always drive within the speed limit but that doesn't stop the police setting up their road blocks and pulling me over because I am a farang and point at the speedometer as though to say I was speeding. Then demanding 200 thb so I can go on my way. I have pushed back on occasions and that only gets them riled and they start looking for other things to pick me up on. They never find any because I am fully insured with a valid license etc etc etc. But it is the fact that they are able to do this on the pretext of speeding and wanting their tea money.

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3 hours ago, webfact said:

In a fair and efficient society, anyone anywhere should be able to get a driving licence quickly and either free of charge or at minimal cost. When the procedure is slow and difficult, involving considerable time and challenging tests, the result will be an enormous number of people driving illegally, many of them too poor in time and money to find an alternative.

What a weird, contradicting statement to the rest of the article. One the one hand the article criticizes the public's attitude of routinely driving without license and flaunting each and every traffic law at will. On the other hand, the article says a driving license should be able to be obtained for peanuts and without any meaningful (read: "challenging") driver training at all.

 

Dear The Nation: A driving license is supposed to be the official document proving that its holder has actually undergone proper training on traffic rules and steering a motor vehicle and that he understands that participating in road traffic also means to drive with sensible foresight and due consideration for other road users. A driving license is NOT a "I can do as I please on the roads" endorsement.

 

As it is right now, driving licenses in Thailand are TOO EASY to obtain with almost no training involved. For the article to lament that it is "unfair" towards "poor people" to have to undergo rigorous driver training before they hit the road is ridiculous.

 

ALL future road users - regardless whether they are "poor" or "rich" - should have been subjected to both theoretical and practical training BEFORE they are being allowed to steer a potentially lethal weapon on public roads. The reason why Thailand has the distinction of being number one in global road fatalities is directly connected to INSUFFICIENT driver training across all socio-economic demographics... and NOT to whether the "poor" can afford their driver's license "in time and money" or not. 

 

I agree that the cost for a driver's license - and the associated LENGTHY and CHALLENGING training that leads to it being issued - should be kept at a reasonably low level to also allow poorer people to obtain one. But ten again, if a "poor" person can afford buying a motorcycle or a pickup truck in the first place, they surely can afford to pay a tiny fraction thereof for their training and license.

 

I remember that more than 30 years ago it took me a full six months of theoretical and practical training and a very challenging examination at the end before I held my own driving license in my hands. It cost me a not so measly $1,200 that I financed through small after-school jobs. And you know what? It made me appreciate my license and the rigorous training I received also has made me a better driver, I hope, steering my vehicle with my own safety in mind as well as the safety of other road users around me.     

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4 minutes ago, rtco said:

That's b/s. I always drive within the speed limit but that doesn't stop the police setting up their road blocks and pulling me over because I am a farang and point at the speedometer as though to say I was speeding. Then demanding 200 thb so I can go on my way. I have pushed back on occasions and that only gets them riled and they start looking for other things to pick me up on. They never find any because I am fully insured with a valid license etc etc etc. But it is the fact that they are able to do this on the pretext of speeding and wanting their tea money.

Where is this exactly? I've lived here more than 15 years, but this has never happened to me.

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1 minute ago, SoilSpoil said:

Where is this exactly? I've lived here more than 15 years, but this has never happened to me.

On the 331/304 between Pattaya and Korat ... sometimes up to 4 checkpoints

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When I came here, I was informed that THAIS generally, will find ways of circumnavigating all laws, and to be honest that is TRUE 100%. Until that ATTITUDE changes, no amount of LAWS will change the system, the corruption or even the outcome. 

They ( The NCPO ) need to understand Thais lie and refuse to follow any law they do not like, plus that the Police are seen as  CORRUPT  from the top down. Forgetting they ( The Police ) are there to PROTECT the public not steal from them !!

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14 minutes ago, SoilSpoil said:

Where is this exactly? I've lived here more than 15 years, but this has never happened to me.

If they stop you fro speeding just ask them to prove it. They will let you go as they can never prove it !"!

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1 hour ago, JAG said:

Almost invariably they trundle slowly along the left-hand side of the road, causing ,at most, a couple of minutes inconvenience to anyone behind them. They are often an integral art of the local economy...

 

They are actually not legal, and there trundling is actually dangerous considering that there is no brake on the third wheel. I cannot recount how many time these "living rooms"  almost caused me to have an accident. Off with their heads... hehehe

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Why not bring  corruption out into the open by making the driver firstly give the policeman say 200 Baht for catching each driver committing an offence. Then give the driver his official fine for the offence. ( Lets call a spade a spade for once)

This might motivate the police to get off their butts and chase down more offending drivers. Enforcement is the key to achieving better results with fines that are affordable and matched to the drivers income level. 

I have been told that the police are subsidizing there low income of around 10,000 baht per month by taking cash payoffs from drivers.Thais seem to believe that this is the way its been for decades.  

At present what are the odds of being caught by police if a driver travels at high speed every day on the expressway? zero!!

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