My first speeding ticket in Thailand

So the short version of this story goes:

  1. Today I got caught speeding 50kph over the (unposted) speed limit
  2. I paid a fine on the spot and was released
  3. I love Thailand!

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I have this running joke with people who ride in my car and ask what the funny device attached to my windshield is – “It’s a 7-11 detector,” I always say (I’ve NEVER seen another radar detector in Thailand, so their curiosity is understandable). Sure enough, it starts beeping madly whenever we pass a convenience store (or anywhere else with automatic door sensors), so this explanation may be less facetious than it sounds (then again, maybe not). Well as it turns out, it might as well have been a “7-11 detector” today when it started beeping wildly while I was driving on a flat stretch of highway between towns.
The beeping surprised the hell out of me, because all around, there was nothing but typical Isan scenery: A few trees, rice fields as far as the eye could see, a couple of skinny cows, and the tall spire of a temple half a kilo down the road. I consciously noticed that I had become desensitized to the sound of my radar detector – I didn’t brake and instead just let off the gas a bit, convinced that it had picked up on an errant signal sent from the cosmos, or perhaps a stray radar wave bouncing off the dusty Thai ionosphere. The last thing, the absolute last thing I thought it could be was a speed trap, so you pretty much see where this story is going.
The men in brown were waiting for me a kilometer down the road. Luckily, Nam was in the car with me and she took care of the whole thing. they wanted me to pull over and wait to be processed. They wanted my driver’s license. They wanted to know if I knew I had been driving at least 130kph. When all was said and done, they wanted to get paid. My fine for speeding 50kph over the limit?
200 baht.
That’s like, six bucks.
In Japan, I’d instantly have my license revoked and be fined thousands of dollars, plus maybe get a free night’s stay in traffic jail.
Like I’ve said before, some things are just really cheap out here in the sticks. The funny thing is, we actually paid more than normal (for around here, at least, in Bangkok, etc., it’s a lot different), because this was a special traffic safety crackdown taking place to reduce accidents for the Songkran holiday period, which starts tomorrow.
I love Thailand.

9 Replies to “My first speeding ticket in Thailand”

  1. The thing is in Japan you never get caught twice in the same place unless you’re really stupid. Their speed traps are always in the exact same place, every time, at least in Tokyo. I know three places where speed traps are. Just yesterday, I drove past one of them. I usually go way above the speed limit on roads like those, because the speed limits are ludicrously low. But because I knew the spot, I slowed down for that one patch… and lo, there was the cop with the radar detector.
    See more about that on my blog.

  2. Actually the only time I got a speeding ticket prior to this was when I had my detector off only about 2 kilometers away from my house in Awaji. The police were all happy about ticketing over 100 people in one hour in their new speed trap spot. Bastards.
    I lived out in the sticks, though. I imagine that around Tokyo it’s just like you said – they don’t crack down in places where it would make a difference, just where it’s convenient for them to set up speed traps.

  3. I like the filial piety part of Songkran where children (like you) return home with a gift for mum and dad to show them love and appreciation!
    gift hint: fresh mangosteen for dad and a grandbaby for me!

  4. I didn’t edit shit. God obviously didn’t want it written…
    Oh wait, I DID edit it. My bad!
    Shit fool, half of my skeletons share the same closet as yours, anyway.

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