A new policy of leniency towards drivers committing minor traffic offences comes into action today in all nine of the capital's metropolitan police divisions with warning tickets replacing fines for first-time offenders. Although these citations carry no penalties, the names of wrongdoers will be entered into a traffic police database which will flag an alert if they are ever stopped for committing a similar offence. If, or more likely, when, that happens, leniency for that particular driver will be at an end and the full force of the law applied. That would also be a good time to introduce compulsory driver re-education programmes for repeat offenders.
Tough penalties still await those committing major offences such as drink-driving, speeding and dangerous overtaking. But, possibly through an oversight, jumping a red traffic light is not on the list of the 13 offences considered "major", yet parking on a footpath is. It should be obvious which of the two is more likely to cause a serious accident involving death and injury and it is not too late to make a clearer distinction between a traffic crime and an infraction causing serious inconvenience.
The scheme is the brainchild of metropolitan police chief Pol Lt Gen Kamronwit Thoopkrachang and its aim is to save the time involved in form-filling, temporary licence confiscation and trips to the local police station to pay minor fines ranging from 200 to 500 baht. It comes after a flurry of well-justified complaints about lengthy tailbacks being caused by police checkpoints which funnel vehicles into one lane. Now minor offenders will only be stopped briefly for a warning and there will be no more daytime checkpoints or threats to road safety.
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