A new law comes into effect this Thursday which makes driving in Thailand whilst using a mobile phone (cell phone) illegal. From May 8th 2008, any motorists in Thailand transgressing the new law face a minimum fine of 400 Baht rising to a maximum of 1,000 Baht. The use of hands-free devices will be permitted. Authorities say the law will be enforced via police checkpoints and digital camera technology.
It will be interesting to see how effective this new law is and how strictly it is enforced. This new law is a good one, but I believe it will be a long time before Thai drivers break off their love affair with the mobile phone. From my own experience here, the general Thai attitude to road safety and motoring laws is lax to say the least. Motorcyclists routinely go without helmets, whilst car drivers ignore no U-turn signs, crash red lights and overtake when they shouldn’t. Just to put this issue of road safety in some perspective, it was as recently as last July that Thai officials recognised that driving whilst watching TV or singing karaoke may also be dangerous. I kid you not. The worst offenders with the karaoke rigs and TV screens on the dashboard seem to be truck drivers (must be something to do with those long hours of loneliness on the road). Only in Thailand.