Pattaya leaves dangerous U-turns open; opts for better signs, enforcement

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Pattaya officials have decided to leave open three dangerous area U-turns, arguing that stricter traffic control is a better solution than inconveniencing drivers.

Sunthorn Ratanawaraha, Pattaya’s permanent secretary, presided over the meeting with area police and traffic and engineering bureaucrats Sept. 20 at Pattaya City Hall to consider closing Sukhumvit Road U-turn points in front of Underwater World, the Pattaya Floating Market and in Naklua.

Perhaps the most-dangerous of the U-turn areas is the one on the edge of Pattaya at the Floating Market, Sunthorn said. There, large tour buses driving in the far left lane of Sukhumvit Road will suddenly turn right across several lanes of traffic to turn around. Numerous accidents have occurred when drivers in the right lane fail to stop in time for buses making the blatantly illegal cross-lane turns.

Sunthorn Ratanawaraha (background, left) presides over the meeting. Sunthorn Ratanawaraha (background, left) presides over the meeting.

Rather than close the U-turn, forcing drivers to travel a long distance until the next turnaround, the city has decided to leave it open and have police step up enforcement of traffic laws at the site and ask bus companies to not park on Sukhumvit or make illegal turns.

Sunthorn said a similar approach will be taken near Underwater World at the Pest Management Center. Here, he said, closing the intersection would be “futile” as the next turn is difficult to find and will increase the distance drivers must travel to turn around. The city, he said, advocates installing traffic cameras to catch and fine traffic scofflaws, particularly those who drive in reverse when they miss the turn.

Finally, in Naklua, the city had previously closed the Krabok Tree U-turn for drivers coming from Naklua, but it hasn’t made any difference, as drivers simply ignored it because the turn is still open for drivers coming from Pattaya, Sunthorn said.

The city has decided to leave things as they are and simply install more signs telling drivers the proper method for turning and directing Naklua drivers to the next U-turn, he said.

Sunthorn insisted the safety of lives and property was taken into consideration when deciding whether to close dangerous traffic points and said that the solutions offered the greatest benefit and least amount of inconvenience to drivers.