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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Safety on Samui roads

Safety on Samui roads

Unfortunately that safety is not very high. Most recent sample is my wife's younger sister who was run off her bike and spent the last two nights in hospital and luckily enough it looks like she has no major brain damage but only a concussion. Unfortunately she also participated in a typical Samui style habit, she didn't use a helmet.

Her luck was that she wasn't driving but waiting to cross the road whilst standing still and the person who did ran her off her bike didn't do the typical runner after the accident but actually stopped and brought her to Thai International Hospital.

Each year there are too many motorbike and other road accidents on Samui. Factors contributing to these accidents are police not regulating traffic and controlling that rules are followed. Yes, there are controls on use of helmets but these controls are merely towards the end of the month to fill the pockets of the local police boys. What the police never seems to follow up on is to stop kids too young for legally driving a bike. It gets worse if you're involved in an accident involving a youngster, since you're supposed to pay the family of the kid in case he dies because of the accident.
Sometimes the local police had you look at a book with motorbike head injuries after being caught without a helmet, a very sobering experience.

The roads are in very bad shape on Samui, they're not wide enough and there are many potholes. All roads are concrete roads rather than tarmac, except a few roads now in Nathon.

The police doesn't control for speeding, trucks and minivans use Samui roads many times as a racing track and tend to flee the scene after they get involved in an accident. Many truck drivers are paid per load rather than being paid per days work.

Foreigners/tourists who are not used to 'Thai road rules' which are very different than 'back home'. Driving on the left side of the road is for many tourists a new experience and many Thais driving motorbikes seem to be completely oblivious to any other traffic on the road.

Alcohol and driving also don't go too well on Samui. Many or most serious accidents happen during the night time with either one or both parties being intoxicated.

I can go on about other factors but unfortunately, scenes as in the picture above are too many around the island and too many people end up in one of the hospitals on Samui where the surgeons are experts in mending broken bones and head injuries.

When visiting Samui, be careful on the roads, get used to the seemingly lawlessness of the road rules (or absence of rules) and the Thai logic of driving by changing direction without notification. Drive defensively and slow and if on a motorbike wear sturdy and closed shows, not your flip flops and wear a helmet.

Good luck!



Mike said...

Camille i think your post says it all, lack of driver education together with little or no policing is a sure recipe for disaster.

Thai roads are not safe and I would never ride a motorcycle here. Even in my 3 ton truck I feel vunerable to the crazy antics other drivers perform.

Sadly driving standards is ONE area that Thailand would benefit from by importing a Western approach to driver education and training.

Camille Lemmens said...

Hi Mike,

Road regulations (or lack of) are indeed in a sad state of affairs.

Do you also wonder how the MiB can drive expensive cars on their relatively low salary?