Road accidents involving foreign tourists using rented motorbikes on the rise in Pai

Hospital staff and local residents in Pai district of Mae Hong Son have called on concerned authorities to regulate motorcycle rental service providers following an increase of road accidents involving tourists using rented motorbikes.

The problem was raised at a recent forum on sustainable tourism in Pai, which is one of the top tourist destinations in the North with about 500,000 visitors a year, including some 100,000 foreign tourists.

Most tourists were not familiar with driving on mountainous streets of Pai while many of them were inexperienced motorcycle riders, the forum was told.

The problem of motorcycles and foreign tourists has been blamed to be the cause of most road accidents in the district.

Mrs Arporn Saengchote, president of Pai cultural council, demanded authorities concerned to come forward to address the problem.

Mrs Banchongchit Channual, a nurse at the emergency unit of Pai hospital, said the number of foreign tourists visiting the hospital for treatment of injuries from road accidents had steadily increased.

According to the hospital records, there were almost 6,000 road accidents in Pai district over the past four years from 2014-2017, mostly involving foreign tourists using motorcycles.  During the same period, 4,750 foreign tourists and 1,818 Thais – both locals and tourists, were injured from road accidents.

Mrs Banchongchit said operators of motorcycle rental services must be involved in solving the accident problem.

A Thai PBS reporter approached one motorcycle rental shop to ask for a motorbike for rent and found that the shop only demanded an ID card and 1,000 baht deposit from a Thai client while, for a foreign tourist, a passport and 3,000 baht deposit was required without a question asked whether he or she has a driving license or the riders who have no previous experience in riding a bike.

One operator of the motorcycle rental service agreed that some sort of regulation should be applied to all rental service operators so that there would be one standard practice for foreign tourists in renting motorcycles.

Pai mayor Akkadej Taprab said that it was the responsibility of the Land Transport Department to regulate motorcycle rental service providers and, so far, the best that the department has done was to seek cooperation from the providers.

But as far as the local administration organizations are concerned, he said more warning signs and traffic lights would be installed at high risk spots to warn motorcyclists to exercise more caution.