Friday 26 July 2013

Road safety in Thailand

With a night time tour bus crashing two days ago which killed 19 people, Thailand's road safety has once more been put in the spotlight. A truck driver who fell asleep went into the adverse lane and had a head on collision with a tour bus. The bus almost completely burned out.
The same night two more bus accidents happened around the country without fatalities and a week before a 3.2 meter high bus was 'decapitated' in Surat Thani whilst it went under a 2.5 meter high bridge, injuring a dozen or so people.

Bus crash Saraburi

The recent bus crash in Saraburi

Some of the problems are that Thai drivers don't have enough experience in real life driving, the drivers license test consists of parking in between some cones, driving backwards and a theoretical test. Up until a few years back it common practice on Koh Samui to just pay 500 or 1,000-THB and you received your license without test at all.
Once on the road, these drivers have no clue about real life dangers like taking over other cars at high speed or in front of corners with a blind angle.
Last years death count on Thai roads was around 14.000. That's massive, a country like the UK has around 2 to 3.000 road accidents victims.

Bus deaths chart for this year

The following part and translation of the chart was originally published on Richard Barrow's blog;

The UK government recently came out to say that ”In Thailand, a country with 50,000 British residents and over 870,000 British visitors per year, there were 68,582 road traffic incidents resulting in 9,205 deaths involving both Thai residents and tourists in 2011.” But how many of these accidents involve tour buses? The true extent of accidents seems a remote issue until you check the above graphic on the Channel 3 breakfast show. Here is the run-down for bus accidents that had fatalities in Thailand this year:
  • 6th January: Songkhla – 2 dead and 40 injured
  • 9th January: Chumphon – 2 dead and 20 injured
  • 6th February: Chumphon – 5 dead and 35 injured
  • 15th February: Chiang Rai – 2 dead and 15 injured
  • 17th February: Phrae – 2 dead and 30 injured
  • 20th March: Singburi – 3 dead and 14 injured
  • 8th April: Phitsanulok – 6 dead and 51 injured
  • 9th April: Kalasin – 3 dead and 35 injured
  • 23rd April: Ayutthaya – 1 dead and 40 injured
  • 24th April: Tak 2 dead and 59 injured
  • 6th May: Phrae 3 dead and thirty injured
  • 7th June: Chiang Rai 1 dead and fifteen injured
  • 23rd July: Saraburi 19 dead and 18 injured

About a year ago there was a deadly bus crash with a night bus from Bangkok to Samui, near Surat Thani, as the link shows you.

According to unconfirmed statistics, Koh Samui had as many fatal road accidents a few years back as the whole of the Netherlands in a year.

Be careful out there on Thai roads. I drive around a lot myself, mainly in Southern Thailand, and I see a lot of scary road behavior including almost zero anticipation, no awareness of what's going on around them and driving drunk or under the influence.
You can add to this already lethal mix an almost complete lack of police control on speeding, alcohol abuse whilst driving or general checking of road fitness of vehicles.

Be careful out there and if possible, try to avoid long distance night buses and wear a helmet once on a motorbike. Unfortunately I know too many people including a few friends, who had fatal (motorbike) accidents on Samui.

Don't forget to use my Camille's Samui hotel recommendation blog and my Camille's Thailand hotel recommendation blog for all your hotel bookings on Koh Samui and around Thailand. By doing so, you will support my blog. Thanks folks!


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