Thailand to change from left to right hand driving
Right hand countries in red, left hand countries in blue
BANGKOK: -- The Thai government is proposing a change from driving on the left side of the road to driving on the right side of the road, the department of public roads has announced. The proposal will be send to parliament in June and the law will take affect on 1 January 2014, with the turning of the year.
According to Tongchai Matchamonton, spokesman for the department, the change is being proposed to better prepare for ASEAN community and meant to strengthen the economy. “Most of the ASEAN member states already drive on the left hand side and with more
open trade between the countries this will make transports and logistics more easy, especially with the neighboring countries Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.
Also important is that China drives on the right and the change will make transport to and from the greater Mekong region easier. This is an important step forwards for our economy. Already Thailand is planning its rail transport to have the same rail gauge as neighboring countries. Driving on the same side of the road is only the next logical step in order for Thailand to become a transport hub for Asia.”
The spokesman expects that the change would be without major problems or accidents.
“We will inform the people beforehand with a campaign. “Our successes with reducing the number of accidents during holidays like Songkran proofs we can do the transition safely. The change will take place during the new year as at that time there are already a lot of check-points all over the country. They will see to it that the change will be made without incident”.
It is also hoped that the change will increase the safety of tourist, as most tourist are used to drive on the left. The department confirmed that many accidents with tourists happen because they go out and drink too much. When they get on their motorcycle they cause accidents because they drive on the wrong side of the road out of habit. This is being confirmed by Phuket police.
The government will demand that car manufacturers only sell new cars with the steering wheel on the left and is busy with consulting the major car manufacturers. It already agreed with the Chinese car manufactures' that their new to open plant in Thailand
will only produce cars for driving on the left.
As of 1 January 2014 all cars sold in Thailand will need to have the steering wheel on the left side. Old normal cars can keep their steering wheel on the right, but owners cannot sell these cars. For that the car must first be refitted with the steering wheel on the left.
Per 1 January 2020 all cars in Thailand, including old cars, must be refitted. However busses, trucks and taxis will be exempted as they are driven by professional drivers who can handle their vehicle safely.
The spokesmen further announced that the government is negotiating with car manufacturers in Thailand to set a fair price for refitting cars, so consumers will not pay too much to adjust their car. Under the plan owners of a car not older than 5 year will get half of the price for refitting back from the government through their personal income tax, so they don’t have to spend too much money.