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A series of bus crashes and safety incidents in Bangkok that have made national headlines has resulted in heftier punishments for public transport drivers – including taxi, tuk-tuk, public bus and van drivers in Phuket.
Jaturong Kaewkasi, Chief Specialist of the Phuket office of the Department of Land Transport, confirmed the raft of new punishments, which include fines for the companies that wayward drivers work for, yesterday (June 30).
The new penalties were announced by Department of Land Transport (DLT) director-general Teerapong Rodprasert on June 24.
His announcement followed social media uproar over a bus in Bangkok running a red light and nearly mowing the driver and child on a motorcycle.
The driver, Chaluia Kankhokkruat, was fined B5,000 and suspended from driving for 30 days. The bus company he worked for, Kittisunthorn Co, was also fined B2,000 for the vehicle not carrying a safety manual. (See story here.)
“I have received many comments about public service [transport staff], about their impolite language and behaviour, breaking traffic laws, hurting and intimidating passengers, and sometimes even dumping them by the side of the road,” Mr Teerapong said.
“The DLT has a strict policy to punish public transport drivers in every case, and especially in cases affecting the lives and safety of passengers.”
Mr Teerapong gave the specific recent example of a public bus in Bangkok that was driven at high speed. “The driver changed lanes on a bridge, and crashed,” he noted.
Any public drivers found guilty of such dangerous driving or other inappropriate behaviour would now face fines of up to B5,000 and could be suspended from driving for 30 days. They will also be forced to undergo a safe driving course.
Companies can now be fined from B10,000 to B40,000 for transgressions or for the antics committed by their staff, Mr Teerapong said.
For serious offences, the company may have its operating license revoked and the driver may have his or her license cancelled immediately.
“This is a good policy and sets standards throughout all the provinces,” Mr Jaturong told The Phuket News.
“The maximum fine for [transport staff] being impolite or for inappropriate behaviour used to be B1,000, now it is up to B5,000,” he said.
“This is good for Phuket. Phuket is a tourism province and public transport should uphold good manners and behaviour.”
Complaints about public transport drivers can be reported by calling the 24-hour hotline 1584 or by visiting the Thai-language Complaints Hotline website, click here.