The Real Dangers in Thailand Part 2

thaibcar accident

As with any other travel destination in the world you can rent cars, trucks and motorcycles in Thailand. The best tip I can give you is DON’T. Everyone I have ever met in Thailand from expat to the two week vacationer that has driven in Thailand has been in an accident. It’s not a matter of if you will be involved in an accident, but when.

Some have been minor scrapes but others have required surgery and long hospital stays. Last year a Thai woman on her way home from work one night in Pattaya riding her motorcycle fell into a pit in the road that was 6 feet deep and 4 feet wide. The contractor working on the road didn’t think a barricade was necessary.

Sometimes accidents are related to bad road conditions but more often than not road accidents in Thailand, from rural areas to the big cities,  can be chalked up to bad driving. Motorcycles weave in and out of traffic as fast as they can and cars defend their space with a passion. My second trip to Thailand I saw two motorcycle accidents in one night. The first accident a motorcycle taxi cut in front of a baht bust that decided to drive right over him. The second accident a motorcycle crashed into the rear of a Mercedes at high speed. My last trip when I was coming back from Mukdahan to the bus station in Pattaya we passed a motorcycle torn to pieces in the road with an obvious dead rider 100 feet away.

One taxi ride from the airport to Pattaya my driver could not decide which lane he wanted to drive in so he decided to split the difference and drive between lanes and cars for a half a mile or so. I think the falang screaming in the back of his taxi unnerved him so he stopped.

4108  160x120 Picture 452 800x600 The Real Dangers in Thailand Part 2 Traffic is so bad in Bangkok that it’s not unusual to see a motorcycle taxi jump the curb and take to the sidewalk. Driving is more of a sport in Thailand and a blood sport at that. The bad Asian driver may be a cliche stereotype but when it comes to Thai drivers there’s more truth than fiction to that sentiment.

If that doesn’t give you pause to reconsider driving while in the Kingdom then consider the the following two articles.

In 1999 a study was done by G D Jacobs and Amy Aeron-Thomas called A REVIEW OF GLOBAL ROAD ACCIDENT FATALITIES. It broke down road related fatalities by region with Asia comprising a full 44% of all road fatalities world wide. It should come as no surprise then that Thailand has been the leader in road accidents world wide for some time. In 2004 it was estimated that Thailand had an accident rate of 6.6 accidents per 10,000 drivers, in comparison all of Europe was at only 1.8 accidents per 10,000 drivers.

4109  160x120 Picture 453 800x600 The Real Dangers in Thailand Part 2 Pichai TANEERANANON and Opas SOMCHAINUEK did a study on bus crashes in Thailand called BUS CRASH SITUATION IN THAILAND: CASE STUDIES. The sheer number of bus crashes and fatalities yearly in Thailand is staggering.

Mike over at My Thai Friend brought up another aspect of Thai driving yesterday in his post Time for a U Turn in Thailand. U turns are a national past time and represent the cause in a high number of traffic accidents.

If you just have to drive in Thailand then make sure you have an international drivers license or a Thai drivers license and insurance. If you are involved in an accident most likely you’ll be seen as the person at fault and even if you are not there will be fines to pay.

Public transportation is the the alternative and for the most part will be fine. I’ve been on motorcycle taxi’s, taken tour buses up country and used taxis. I haven’t had a problem yet but I know the odds are against me. With drivers working sometimes 12 -16 hour days it’s hard to know what kind of ride you will get. As Elvis Costello would say “Accidents will happen” but if you keep your wits about you and stay aware of your surroundings then theres a good chance you can avoid being in one.

sig1 The Real Dangers in Thailand Part 2

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Comment by MikeNo Gravatar
2009-01-04 05:53:08


It funny you should mention drivers hours. My next door neighbour is a long distance lorry driver.

Over a few New Year beers (he actually had 2 days off) I asked him how long he can legally drive his articulated 20+ ton lorry for in Thailand.

He just smiled!

Mikes last blog post..Excuse Me Bud Do You Speak English?

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-01-04 06:45:01

Scary isn’t it. If I remember right the number one cause of bus accidents was falling asleep at the wheel…a comforting thought for me on the 10 hour journey to Mukdahan.

I do have to say though that the buses I’ve been taking normally have 2 drivers or a driver and a wingman.

Comment by HeidiNo Gravatar
2009-01-04 21:26:22

I thought Central America driving was bad but this sounds terrifying!!!

Comment by DeeNo Gravatar
2009-01-07 11:49:55

Came across this page completely randomly. This is a great topic and I wish more people realised this. So good, I think you should consider changing your heading to something directly related to motorbike, motorcycle or scooter hire in Thailand so that this page comes up in relevant Google searches.

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