Pattaya dreads return of traffic chaos

A typical scene on Pattaya roads. Bikers crossing streets through any opening they can find. What’s worse, they refuse to wear safety helmets. (Pattaya Mail file photo)

The coronavirus in Thailand including Pattaya is on the way out and road accidents are on the way in.

One of the largest risk groups involved in road accidents causing injury and deaths are the motorbike drivers and their passengers driving around Pattaya and the surrounding areas without wearing safety helmets.

Understandably it gets very uncomfortable wearing a helmet especially in this heat, so bikers would rather not wear them even if it means breaking the law or losing their lives.

Police officers were very active before the COVID-19 pandemic, setting up many check points and citing both drivers and passengers for not wearing a safety helmet and breaking other traffic laws.

But since the coronavirus outbreak, the lawmen have become more lenient in their checks, one of the reasons being, the officers do not have adequate protection and were at risk of getting infected themselves. It was also a welcome relief for them during the curfew because there were no cars and motorbikes on the streets.

After the second phase easing of lockdown rules, including one less hour of curfew came into effect on May 17, the streets have come alive again. Cars and motorbikes roam the streets and thousands of people living on the dark side are rushing to the east side causing traffic jams and chaos around the narrow streets and sois not to mention intersections where there are no functioning traffic signals.

To add to our traffic woes, construction of drains and laying of cable pipes under the roads are still not finished. I’m sure when the time is right and there are more cars, motorbikes and tour buses on the roads, the digging will start again.

Slowly but surely businesses are opening their doors, which is a good sign that business is on the move again, albeit only for the people in Pattaya and those visiting from the nearby provinces. International arrivals are still banned, so we’ll have to wait a few more months before seeing any foreign tourists.

This woman was badly injured when the bike she was riding on, loaded with 4 other people smashed into another bike. (Pattaya Mail file photo)

It is still very sad to see that we are losing 20-80 people due to traffic accidents all over Thailand. Most of the casualties are young people, the future workforce who still have so much to contribute to our country.

The causes of the accidents are obvious, drunk driving or doing stupid things. It is common to see motorbikes whizzing by with two kids sitting in the front of the driver and 2 or 3 riding pillion. Not to mention inexperienced big bike riders speeding at top speed along the highways. Disasters waiting to happen.

Comparatively, in Thailand, the coronavirus killed less than 60 people in a period of 3 months, while the annual deaths on our roads are enormous. During the Songkran holiday week, between 300-500 people lose their lives on our roads and highways.

Another unwelcome risk driving on our roads is getting involved in ‘road rage’. My advice to you is to avoid it as best as you can. If involved in an incident, call the police, wait in the car or at a distance, don’t argue and if it helps, apologise and try to end it there. A little loss of face is better than loss of blood.

With the easing of restrictions, we tend to get a little lax with the way we conduct ourselves. People return to the same driving habits; chaos on the roads is and will become even more of the norm. The summer heat will get even hotter, tempers will flare easily, and without self control it could spell disaster.

An empty Pattaya City’s bath bus or Song Taew going around is a common scene as the air, sea, and land entries are still banned.
Pattaya’s baht buses are finding it very difficult to make a living as there are no foreign tourists in town, and not many local people are going anywhere.

Make sure your cars have insurance, at least the compulsory Por Ror Bor Motor Insurance. This policy will provide coverage for the third party involved in a car accident and  ensures that the company will pay to third party in case of loss of life and bodily injuries. It is required by law and must be renewed every year before paying your annual car tax.

So as we are getting back to some sort of normalcy that we are accustomed to, keep in mind, Safe Driving, Saves Lives.

Most importantly, coronavirus is still lurking around the corner, so stay safe. Wash your hands often with soap or sanitizing gel, wear a face mask when outdoors and when in close proximity to other people. Better still, maintain ‘physical distancing’.

A long queue of vehicles waiting at a red light at the Soi Siam Country Club entrance showing that people from the other side are now driving in and out of Pattaya City for works in the morning and get back to their homes in the evening.
Since the easing of restrictions on travel, Pattaya’s roads are showing signs of returning to the good old days of traffic jams and road accidents.


We don’t really want to see scenes like this on our roads. (Pattaya Mail file photo)
A motorcyclist was killed and a passenger hurt when their bike lost control on a Highway 7 bridge and crashed into a side railing, vaulting the driver over the side. (Pattaya Mail file photo)