National and metropolitan police have
announced that strict road safety measures will
be in place from today: Thai Public backlash as
Thais slam new pick-up passenger rules.
The regulations refer to seatbelt wearing by drivers and passengers and the practice of travelling in the flat bed of pick-ups.
Drivers and passengers will face fines from today.
The Thai public has given a massive thumbs down to the authorities after plans to ban people in the back of pick-ups were announced.
And they are shocked that the moves are not just for Songkran - they are for keeps.
And additionally a key police spokesman has clarified that people will not be able to travel in the back row of seats in a pick-up's cab either. That will generate a fine in future.
But "song thaews" (passenger vehicles with two rows of seats and a cover that some refer to as baht buses) are exempt. As are some vehicles carrying farming produce in agricultural areas.
The spokesman also reiterated that people splashing water in certain areas will not be fined.
Yesterday influential Thai media Thai Rath posed the question in an online poll:
"Songkran this year: No sitting in the back of pick-ups - do you agree?"
By press time 25,194 had voted.
"Yes" garnered just 6,029 votes.
"No" swamped the poll with 19,165 votes - or about 76% of the public.
The story was shared right across social media.
Thai police HQ assistant chief Withaya Prayongphan appeared on Thai Rath's Channel 32 TV show "Direct questions".
He said that vehicles registered for passenger use with two rows of seats are not included in the ban.
But other private pick-ups are banned from carrying passengers in the back - and not just for the upcoming Songkran holidays. It will apply throughout the year now.
In addition he said that passengers will not be able to use the space behind the driver in the cab to sit in. He said this was not designed for passenger use but was for transporting goods.
If passengers are in this space that will be deemed "wrong use" according to the law.
He stressed that the ban will be relaxed in slow moving areas that are clearly marked as places where Thais will engage in water splashing activities at Songkran.
And he said that the fines will not apply to pick-ups transporting agricultural produce in rural areas. Workers will be able to sit in the back in these cases.
"Concerned for us or after our money?" as Thais everywhere hit out at what many see as government control over an accepted part of the Thai way of life - and possibly just another way for the police to extract money in more fines.
Poster "davehowden" said: "Thais not allowed to sit in the back of a pick-up? You might as well stop my mother-in-law from picking her nose".