Thai law authorities are tightening rules on tourists driving their own vehicles into Thailand, in an effort to regulate foreign vehicles more strictly and curb frequent road accidents involving foreigners at the wheel.
Chief of the Department of Land Transport Sanith Phromwong said these vehicles presented problems in terms of frequent accidents and ecological harm, and that now only some types of vehicles would be allowed to travel in certain areas for particular periods of time.
Sanith said motorists wanting to drive their vehicles into Thailand will need to request permission to do so through Thai tourism operators at least 10 days in advance and have their vehicles checked by authorities. Transport officials overseeing Thai provinces bordering the motorists’ countries will consider whether to grant a permission card.
The card, which will cost Bt500, must be displayed inside the vehicle where it can be easily seen by Thai officials. A vehicle will be allowed to travel only in the province through which it enters Thailand and for 30 days each trip. The total permitted period must not exceed 60 days in one year.
As it aims to regulate foreign vehicles more strictly, the Department of Land Transport will share information about them with other state agencies through a computer network. This, Sanith said, would allow customs officials to keep check on the vehicles and to check in particular whether a driver had overstayed the permitted driving period.
If a driver was found to have broken any Thai law, related to transport or otherwise, this would be recorded and sent to transport officials to consider if that driver should be allowed to re-enter Thailand in the future.
These regulations will not apply to vehicles from Laos, Malaysia and Singapore, which have pacts with Thailand on international car usage.
In February the Ministry of Tourism and Transport held a meeting with relevant government agencies and private sector tourism and car rental services, as it looked to regulate the driving of personal vehicles into Thailand by tourists.
A growing trend of self drive tourists in the kingdom has resulted in road safety concerns arising from different lane systems and driving practices. This is particularly evident with tourists from China who are used to driving on the right side of the road, whereas in Thailand it is on the left side of the road.
Efforts to improve travel and transportation safety in Thailand have been ongoing since the National Council for Peace and Order, which took over administration of the country following the May 2014 coup, identified the improvement of public transportation systems as a key part of its mission to rid Thailand of all injustice and bring happiness back to the people.
“This has focused on various transportation such as trains and passenger vans, as well as seen crackdowns on taxi cartels which had been taking advantage of unsuspecting tourists in popular destinations like Phuket”, said the spokesman of a leading international law firm in Thailand.
Many a law firm in Thailand, along with hotels, tour operators and other businesses across all sectors have welcomed the efforts. BSA Law, which offers a range of legal and financial services with expertise ranging from tax consulting and accounting to Thai labour law, corporate law, Thai law in general and advice on starting a business in Thailand, always encourages its clients to be pro-active when it comes to safety and security. It suggests people carry local emergency and other important numbers on them when travelling.