PHUKET: Five new high-tech ‘red light cameras’ were launched this morning in response to Phuket’s recognition as one of Thailand’s five most dangerous provinces for road travel.

“These cameras can help catch those who are speeding, not wearing helmets or running red lights. A computer then automatically prints a penalty notice, which will be sent to the driver’s residence,” said Phuket Governor Chokchai Dejarmornthan.

“The main purposes of this is to change bad driving behavior in Phuket and scare people into obeying traffic laws. This is one of the policies to propel Phuket toward Smart City status as well. These will prove to be very helpful and save a lot of time for police officers,” he added.

Governor Chokchai met with Phuket Provincial Police Commander Teeraphol Thipjaroen, Deputy Chair of the so-called ‘Thai Road Safety Network (TRSN)’ Dr Wiwat Seetamanotch, and other relevant officers at Phuket Provincial Police Station to discuss further details of the project.

“The new CCTV system has been launched in conjunction with the Safer Roads Foundation (SRF). The total budget for the project is 16 million baht,” said Gov Chokchai.

The cameras have been placed at five locations on the island, namely the Khao Lan junction on Thepkrasattri Road; the Chao Fah West and Kwang Road junction; the See Kor (Kathu-Patong Road) junction; the Kamala junction; and the Komaraphat Road junction in Phuket Town.

“The reason for choosing these five spots is that a lot of traffic violations have been reported there over the years. In 2016-2017, Khao Lan junction recorded 43 accidents, 2 deaths and 23 injuries. See Kor junction saw 28 accidents, 1 death and 33 injuries, and the Chao Fah West-Kwang Road junction saw 51 accidents and 46 injuries,” said Gov Chokchai.

The cameras are ‘insured’ for two years. After that, local authorities will have to set up a budget for their maintenance and upkeep.

According to statistics by the SRF, Thailand has the second-highest number of road accidents and deaths in the world; that is one road accident or casualty every 40 minutes. From 1997 to 2007, Phuket had an average of 200 deaths and 5,000 injuries per year. The number fell to an average of 100 between 2007 and 2016, if the statistics, prepared by Thailand, are to be believed.

According to Dr Wiwat’s insights, there are three main factors leading to these fatal crashes: roads, vehicles and drivers (story here).

“Driver attitude is an important factor in overall road safety. Police cannot be chasing down traffic offenders all the time – they have other jobs to do. These new cameras will go a long way toward helping them,” said Gov Chokchai.

The SRF has helped Phuket in several other projects over the years, including construction a round-about at Provincial Hall in December 2015, “drastically” reducing the number of accidents in the area (story here).

Additionally, the foundation has contributed 39 breathalyzers to check for drunk driving on Phuket’s roads (story here).

The SRF is now in the process of undertaking a 3-million-baht project to provide technology to weigh overloaded trucks, and to install signs to help pedestrians cross the road at 97 points throughout the island.

— Kritsada Mueanghawong