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Sunday, 21 September 2008

Road safety on Koh Samui

Road safety on Koh Samui; it's not very good.

Unfortunately I need to conclude that after having lived here for 9 years.

This morning we went to see the doctor for the children, they're both a bit under the weather and on the way back from Nathon, on the hill just outside Nathon, towards Maenam, a truck managed to flip over whilst going on this hill. Luckily nobody got injured or any other traffic participants got involved in this accident.
The picture below tells it all. Now, besides the fact that it completely beats me how you can flip over a truck whilst you go down a hill, I mean, you go down a hill, do you speed? Nope.....

Anyway, there are many reasons for the accidents on Koh Samui, s short list includes;
-the state of the roads on Koh Samui is very bad (maybe a reason voters earlier this month voted for a new Mayor, since the previous didn't accomplish enough?)
-too much traffic on these bad roads
-roads not wide enough, although currently the roads all around the island are being made wider
-speeding of pretty much all trucks
-the non awareness of other road users by most Thai drivers (changing lanes without warning etc)
-Westerners not being used to drive on the 'left' or 'wrong' side of the road
-sand in curves
-drunk driving, especially at night
-stray animals (mainly dogs) hopping in front of cars and motorbikes
-you can bribe your way through the drivers license test, with the right amount of money there's no test, you just need two pictures for your license, oops, almost forgot; and some money................
-not enough police to enforce road rules
-tourists checking their brain in at arrival on the island and driving irresponsible

The list can go on for while but it all makes for a very dangerous mix on Samui roads. Supposedly Samui has one of the highest accident rates of all of Thailand, although I've never seen statistics that proof this statement. Same 'rumour' mentions Pattaya and Phuket to rank high in the same list

Unfortunately I witness more and more accidents myself, the first couple of years that I lived here, I didn't witness any accidents at all, although I heard of many.
Recently that has changed and the last two years I either witness or see the results of many accidents, most of the time involving motorbikes. Motorbike accidents are not a pretty sight to witness, they're messy, especially considering that more than 80% of the bike drivers on Samui don't use helmets.

Over the years a few people that I knew well who got seriously injured or have died due to motorbike related accidents, definitely a higher % than people I know back in Europe getting injured because of or dying of road accidents. Sad but true.

Another flipped over car, this time a 'metered' taxi that flipped over in front of the Lake View party ground, on the hill leading up to Chaweng's Pagoda, couple of months ago.

Anyway, I truly hope that the road conditions will improve because of the new legislation format that Samui now has with more funds available and with a new Mayor.

In the meantime, enough of my rant but if you visit Samui, be careful when you ride a bike, wear a helmet and ideally closed, sturdy shoes. I don't want to scare you with this post but it's definitely worthwhile being aware of the road conditions on Samui before you join the local traffic!

Any kind of road accident that you get involved in might colour your holiday trip to Koh Samui, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, not so bright!



George said...

Very depressing but honest blog with good advice that just might save a life!

Camille Lemmens said...

Thanks George,

Like I said before, I don't want to scare anybody with this post but it's definitely worthwhile being aware of the road conditions on Samui before you join the local traffic!

Anonymous said...

It would help if Thai motorcyclists kept to the correct side of the road. Its just laziness that they do not cross the road to drive correctly.