By Natthapat Phromkaew
However, police say there will be immediate safety checks and fines for any drivers or passengers found not wearing seat belts.
Government spokesman Lieutenant General Sansern Kaewkamnerd on Thursday insisted that officers will get tough on drunk drivers, speeding motorists or reckless drivers.
Sansern, who pointed out that Thailand was among the countries with the most road fatalities, urged the public to understand that the government’s true intention in enforcement is to prevent the loss of lives and property in road accidents.
The government did not want to create difficulties for the public but road safety measures must be in place, he said.
The government originally planned to enforce strict new laws that would ban all passengers from riding in the cargo bed of pickup trucks and also behind the driver’s seat in extended cab pickup trucks.
But following opposition and considering that people were not given time to prepare for the new regulations – made under the interim charter’s all-powerful Article 44 – the government decided to pull back on the timing. The postponement regarding a complete ban on passengers riding in the cargo bed of pickups, was made to give officials time to explain the new regulations to people involved.
He said police officers would still check, arrest and fine front-seat drivers and passengers who failed to wear seat belts, while they would issue warnings to passengers in the back seat of private vehicles.
However, all passengers on public transport vehicles such as vans, taxis and inter-province buses (Bangkok city buses are exempt) must wear seatbelts.
Up to six passengers riding in pickup truck’s cargo bed will be permitted, but they must not sit on the edge or the truck’s tail gate.
Sansern also quoted the premier as instructing police officers to perform duties with honesty and integrity without accepting bribes.
Since Wednesday, police across the country have been fining commuters and passengers between Bt100 to Bt500 for violating the new regulations which prohibited passengers from riding in the cargo bed or extended cab space of pickup trucks, and required all passengers travelling in a vehicle to wear a seatbelt.
Thailand is one of a few places in the world where the pickup truck is used to carry everything from farm products to passengers in urban and rural areas.
The most popular type of pickup truck in Thailand is the extended cab, where a few passengers can sit on bench seats behind the driving seat. However, there are no seat belts in the extended space, which is a contravention of the new regulations.