Staying Safe on Phuket's Roads
Road accidents are the biggest cause of death to foreign tourists in Thailand. On top of this Phuket has one of the highest road accident rates in the country with motorbike accidents being the most common cause of death on the island. You really need to take care when taking to the roads in Phuket. We hope the following tips will help you to keep out of harms way.
If there is one piece of advice to keep in mind when driving in Thailand it is this. Don’t assume anything. Just because someone is indicating right, doesn’t mean they won’t suddenly turn left. There is no highway code and driving tests are practically a formality. Therefore, you should always expect other drivers to do things you don’t expect. This includes running lights, not indicating, overtaking on blind corners and anything else you can think of. However, just because the locals drive like this does not mean that you should follow their example!
Cars drive on the left, most of the time. You will see a lot of motorbikes driving down the wrong side of the road in Phuket. Most of the roads are narrow and can have a few potholes, so don’t drive fast. The roads can also become very slippery when wet, so even more care should be taken during the rainy season, especially on motorbikes.
You should keep to the left of the lane when riding a motorbike, and keep an eye for overtaking cars. Most car drivers have an irrational urge to overtake motorbikes, even in queues of traffic. You really need to be alert on a bike. Apart from cars, there are all kinds of things on the roads, dogs for instance, that you don’t want to hit. Any kind of motorbike accident is almost always a bad one.
Larger vehicles have the right of way in Thailand. Coaches and lorries often tear around as if they were the size of motorbikes, everyone else just has to get out of the way. Unfortunately, this is an unwritten rule of the road in Thailand, which doesn’t look like changing any time soon.
Wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike is mandatory and if you are caught without one you will be fined on the spot. Due to the large number of fatalities from motorbike accidents, the local police have stepped up their efforts to enforce this law.
Wearing seatbelts in cars is compulsory for the driver and front passenger. You shouldn’t really need to be told to wear your seatbelt in any case.
The police are increasingly cracking down on drink driving which has been a big problem among both locals and tourists here in Phuket. There are a few police checkpoints around the island where you could be stopped and checked for drink driving using breathalysers.
This has not been intended to scare anyone from venturing onto the roads during their holidays. In fact, renting a car or motorbike is definitely the best way to explore the lovely island that is Phuket, but please take care.
If you are planning on driving while you are here, you should familiarise yourself with Thailand’s regulatory traffic signs. See Thailand traffic signs
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