Sunday, December 8, 2013


Some observations in regards to driving, accidents in Thailand

It is just a few days before I will say 'good by' to Thailand and before I will cross into Cambodia at the Trat - Ko Kong border crossing. 

Since the beginning of my journey I rode a total of some 4,850 miles, or 7,800 kilometers, in this fascinating country.

Thailand's drivers are most likely not the best drivers in the world (Germans are, or at least they think they are!), however they are also not in the "Top Ten of the World's Worst Drivers" (The U.S. is, and rightfully so.)

Here are some brief observations in regards to accidents, and driving style:


I don't know whether this was purely coincidental but all the accidents I witnessed were single-vehicle events, and all of them showed cars, trucks or busses who left the road for an excursion into the ditch, or forest. It can be assumed that these are related to either intoxicated drivers, or to fatigue. 

Thailand ranks with 38.1 death among the countries with the most traffic death per 100,000 inhabitants per year, worldwide (U.S.: 10.4, Germany: 4.4). This means that Thailand ranks 3rd in a worldwide comparison in regards to traffic fatalities (1st: Eritrea)


However, I found riding in this country relatively safe and relaxed. The reasons:

- Typically there is a "polite" attitude in traffic here, a very Thai behavior;
- People drive generally slow in city traffic; 
- Typically the driver's intentions are predictable since signalling of turns is almost always done;
- The general driving style could be called "carefully probing", they slowly ease forward into traffic, they slowly try to get into a free spot, all done with care, and without any erratic, quick and unexpected lane changes.
- Traffic signs, especially yellow "no-passing" lanes are regarded as a mere suggestions. Nobody would follow a slow moving vehicle in a no-passing zone when there isn't any on-coming traffic. In general I find this a grown up attitude and helpful for getting somewhere.
- There isn't any of the U.S. macho/ego behavior here, I haven't seen any road rage, or forms of insanity.

However the riders in Chiang Mai told me that a German motorcyclist got shot a few times in the back, and killed, for giving a stinky finger to a local Thai pickup driver. 

- Normally, people have respect for riders of big motorcycles.

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