Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Ambulance fast lane? We already know why it won’t work 

May 05. 2019
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The Royal Thai Police’s plan, as reported on TV, is well-intentioned but full of holes. The cops would paint a red lane between existing traffic lanes so ambulances and other emergency vehicles could squeeze between cars to respond to emergencies. Motorists refusing to yield might be fined Bt500.

We already know, however, that the police have all the laws they need – the problem is they don’t enforce them, causing needless deaths. 

Require that all emergency vehicles have dashboard cameras, turned on together with the siren. Any motorist refusing to give way within, say, three cars’ length of the emergency vehicle would be fined automatically. And not a slap-on-the-wrist Bt500, but 10 times that amount plus suspension of the vehicle owner’s/driver’s licence for a month on the first violation. A second violation would call forth a Bt10,000 fine and permanent licence suspension. Photographic evidence of the violation would be mailed to the offender, as is done now with other moving violation tickets. Vehicles whose owners leave tickets unpaid for 30 days would be subject to immediate seizure until payment plus interest at the maximum allowed by law.

For the first month only, to educate the driving public, we could suspend the penalties and just post videos of the violations on the police website.

Am I being too harsh? Consider that a friend was fined Bt10,000 in Canada for accidentally parking in a space for the handicapped without a permit, teaching him an expensive – and effective – lesson. Being fined heavily and having one’s licence suspended for selfishly endangering a patient’s life would be, I suggest, entirely appropriate – and would be far more effective than the flash-in-the-pan PR efforts we now see.

Let’s save lives on the road.

Burin Kantabutra

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