Today’s impotent threat? Don’t heed Thai road crossings, lose a driving point.

Motorists must slow down and stop at zebra crossings to let pedestrians cross or be fined and penalized under the new points-based driving system.

That was the vow made today by a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office, who said new traffic regulations enhance the punishment for motorists who fail to heed pedestrian crossings.

It was the latest round of threats for drivers to behave, an exercise that rings hollow as the authorities skip to the next performative finger-wagging without addressing the underlying problem in a systematic way. 

But maybe our hearts have grown too hard and skeptical, and those who break the rules will indeed be fined up to THB4,000 and deducted a point, just as spokesperson Ratchada Thanadirek gravely warned today.

Those who lose all 12 points will lose their license for 90 days. The previous theoretical penalty for not stopping at the zebra crossing was a THB1,000 fine, but five minutes on any road in Bangkok belies that being regularly enforced.

The enhanced penalty came one year after the high-profile death of a doctor crossing Phaya Thai Road in Bangkok. Waraluck “Doctor Kratai” Supawatjariyakul, 33, was hit and killed by an off-duty cop speeding on a motorcycle. The incident outraged the public and sparked calls for motorists to slow down or stop at zebra crossings. Other performative gestures included putting fresh coats of paint on pedestrian crossings.

The cop who hit and killed Waraluck sustained only minor injuries in the incident. He was sentenced to a year behind bars and fined THB4,000. 

Under traffic law, drivers must slow down when reaching any junction, pedestrian crossing, stop line, or roundabout. However, as is often the case, the laws are poorly enforced and law enforcement turns a blind eye to offenders – or is the actual offender.

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