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The Thai national police have done a massive U-turn on sitting in the back of pick-up trucks at New Year.
And their moves to make “100%” of Bangkokians wear helmets by taking their bikes have also been toned down.
While a senior policeman has admitted they have no right to confiscate bikes on the helmet issue and has even delayed enforcing the law three more days.
The pick-up seating and helmets issues were billed just a day or so earlier as measures to lower the death toll on Thai roads, now confirmed as the worst in the world.
Thai Rath said in their headline that the Thai police were “being kind”.
Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul was speaking after chairing a meeting of top brass cops including highway police and people from the private sector such as bus company reps.
The meeting at HQ was to address what was to be done at New Year to deal with road accidents.
Srivara put on a brave face and said that the main focus this year was to get tough with drink driving. Those over the limit would have their cars impounded.
Thai Rath did not mention that this is nothing new – it is an old measure usually enforced more strictly during other “deadly festivals” like Songkran and New Year in the past.
On sitting in the back of pick-ups Srivara said that he was considering the convenience of the public. Officers would only stop vehicles where people were exhibiting particularly dangerous behavior.
This included sitting on the edge in the back of pick-ups and drinking alcohol.
This seemed a strong U-turn after claims earlier in the week that enforcing the ban originally mooted at Songkran was targeting the poor.
Regarding the attempt to make 100% of the 3,400,000 Bangkok motorcycle riders and their passengers wear helmets Srivara also had a more lenient approach than previously reported.
The measures would be delayed until 28th December from the original Christmas Day deadline.
And he admitted that police did not have the right to confiscate motorcycles if the owners or passengers did not have helmets. But they would look after the bikes while they went to get a helmet.
However, if cops thought other law breaking was going on they would then have the right of seizure of bikes.
He told Thai Rath that this was not a loophole that would leave leeway for police to profit from the situation.
Finally he said that officers who gave out the old tickets for fines from now on were breaking the law.
Only new tickets – ones with English on that can be paid at ATMs – can be issued as of last Sunday.