Buckle up in the back, Bangkok. It’s now the law.

Photo: Bernard Spragg/CC by 2.0
Photo: Bernard Spragg/CC by 2.0

All passengers must now fasten their seat belts regardless of where they sit in a vehicle or face fines of up to THB2,000.

The updated Road Traffic Act that came into effect yesterday requires those seated in the back to also buckle up – something that had only been required of those seated in the front. The police said they will enforce the new law – something that will strike many longtime traffic observers as unlikely. 

But one taxi driver this morning said that, for now at least, there’s been some enforcement so far.

“Police are fining passengers, so it’s my job as a driver to warn them to put on seatbelts,” taxi driver Suchart Saenghirun said.

He supports the move. 

“These new regulations make travel safer, but officers should enforce them strictly and correctly,” he added. “If people don’t wear them, then they should be fined as I think it makes people think about traffic safety.”

On Monday night, the police had set up a checkpoint on Sukhumvit Road near Benchasiri Park where they appeared to be stopping anyone not wearing a seat belt.

There are exceptions. Children 6 and under are not required to strap in, as the government said it is working to help bring affordable child seats with seatbelts to market.

A previous move to ban riding in the back of trucks that flamed out spectacularly has been revived in the form of a gentle admonition.

The police advise those sitting in the back of trucks to sit “in a safe manner” that doesn’t exceed capacity, while drivers should operate their vehicles at a safe speed.

Vehicles registered prior to 1988 and pickups registered before 1994 will be exempt as they generally do not have adequate safety features.

Further revisions to the law are expected in December.

Even more, the penalties for traffic violations have been spiced up. Speeding, running red lights, and not stopping at marked pedestrian crossings is now punishable by a fine of up to THB4,000,  up from THB1,000.

Also, for motorcycles, riding on the wrong side of the road or without a helmet can now win a THB2,000 fine, four times the THB500 it had been. (Ed. note: We’ll believe it when we actually see it.)

As for street races, promoting such events can be punished by six months in prison and fines of up to THB20,000. What’s more, reckless driving can earn a year in prison and fines of up to THB20,000. It was previously three months and THB10,000.

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