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Driving in Thailand can be more dangerous than most other places in the world.

The Global Road Safety Partnership says

In terms of road-crash death and injury, Thailand ranks among the top ten in the world. In recent years, road crashes have resulted in more than 1,000 fatalities per month, and more than 80,000 injuries per year. A big part of this problem is that a high percentage of motorcyclists don’t wear helmets.

Motorbikes weave in and out of traffic at high speeds.

They can have two or more passengers, including small children, infants, and even pets.  Most of the riders are not wearing helmets.  Sometimes the parents may be wearing them, but the children are not.

Many drivers pull to the left lane and slow down to a crawl so that they can talk on their cell phones.

Other drivers pass on the shoulder both on the left and right. Red lights are run frequently.  People frequently drive down the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic to avoid making a u-turn.  Many trucks carrying any type of cargo are ridiculously overloaded and top heavy.

Most Thais have never had a driving lesson or passed a driver’s test.  Cars and trucks use the lines separating lanes as mere suggestions drifting back and forth between lines without signaling, especially when going around curves.  Many people like to keep their options open so they ride the middle of the line between two lanes, just so they have the option to go one way or the other when they want.

Flashing headlights in Thailand does not mean that you can go, but rather that the driver is telling you “I’m going real fast and I’m not going to stop.”  

Tour Buses barrel down the road drafting right behind one another to save money on fuel.  Song Taew (Taxi Pick up trucks) and Tuk Tuks (3- wheel taxis motorcycles) are driving slow to find passengers and pull out quickly into traffic once they have their passenger onboard.

In most places, there is very little to almost no ongoing traffic enforcement except for at the end of the month when policemen set up speed traps or catch people not wearing helmets on the major highways or within the center of town.  These stops are set up and more times than not, “unofficial” fines are paid on the spot to the officers.

One website I recently read said this about driving in Thailand

Driving in Thailand is not one for the faint hearted. If you are a timid driver, easily annoyed or believe that rules should be obeyed, then it is not for you. Thais view traffic laws more as guidelines and in fact seem to have their own set of unofficial rules. The accident statistics in Thailand are frightening and you should take great care whenever you are on the road.

The best thing you can do is

  • keep your head on a “swivel” especially when turning,
  • check your mirrors often,
  • stay aware of everything around you,
  • check and double check when pulling out,
  • don’t be in too much of a hurry,
  • expect that “yes, they are probably going to pull that stupid move”
  • always wear your seatbelt when in a car or truck
  • always wear a helmet when on a motorbike.

Last but not least; be in right relationship with Jesus, stay prayed up, and thank Him that at least you don’t have to drive in India!


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