Foreign tourists may be required to undergo driving lessons and an orientation in Thai traffic rules for at least two hours before they are allowed to rent a vehicle, especially a motorcycle, for driving in Koh Samui.
The measure is one of several being mulled by transport officials and authorities concerned in Koh Samui in a bid to reduce road accidents on the popular tourist attraction.
Over 3,000 road accidents, mostly involving motorcycles, occur each year in Koh Samui resulting in approximately 50 deaths per annum, 30 percent of them tourists.
One of the reasons for the high number of accidents is that motorcycle rental is easy – tourists are required only to show their passports, put up a deposit for the motorcycle and pay 200 baht a day for the rental fee.
Watchara Promthong, a motorbike rental operator, said that he requires tourists to demonstrate whether they can drive or not before he allows them to rent his bikes.
Another operator, Montri Khanthong, said that there are more motorbike rental service operators these days and, worse still, there is no law or regulation to govern the rental services.
Worakitti Chaichana, chief of land transport office in Koh Samui, said the Land Transport Department would encourage rental service operators to be more mindful about safety measures and to arrange for crash helmets to be provided to their customers.
It was reported that the Tourism Authority of Thailand is in the process of developing a software application called Samui Safety Navigator to provide information about safe driving in Koh Samui.