Tips for riding safely in Thailand

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Paul1212, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. Paul1212

    Paul1212 Active Member

    My motorcycle mechanic is a Thai fellow in Chiangrai who rents out motorcycles. He's expressed concern about people who rent his bikes who don't realize the particular riding hazards in Thailand, so I wrote up a document for him to print and use. I thought it might be helpful for anyone who has contact with riders who are inexperience in riding in Thailand. I'll copy the document below. I have it in Microsoft Word format also, but don't see anyway to attach a document. Feel free to make copies.

    Recommendations For Safe Motorcycle Driving in Thailand
    Thailand now has the 3rd highest rate of traffic deaths in the world. Part of the reason for this is the high rate of hard alcohol consumption (4th highest in the world); another reason is the easy-going attitude of most Thai people that leads to careless driving. Poor driver-education is another factor, as is the relatively strong economy that leads to many people having their own transportation vehicle, so there’s often a lot of traffic. The following is a list of recommendations for safe driving in Thailand, especially for those who are renting motorcycles or have not driven in Thailand for very long.

    (1) Always wear a helmet. Most serious motorcycle injuries are head injuries, and a helmet is therefore the most important piece of riding gear; it can save your life. Be sure to strap it on firmly, so that it doesn’t come off in the event of an accident.

    (2) Pay attention. It’s important to always be watching the road ahead, and checking to see if any vehicles are coming out of side streets. Check your rear view mirror at times. Don’t get distracted by interesting things on the side of the road; accidents have happened when riders have done this.

    (3) It’s wise to drive more slowly than you do in your home country, as Thailand’s roads are full of obstacles - lots of dogs roam free, motorcyclists commonly shoot out of side roads onto main roads without looking first to see if any vehicles are coming, and roads often have potholes or uneven surfaces. On two occasions, I’ve come around a corner on a country road and encountered a herd of cattle in the middle of the road. Both times I was barely able to stop in time.

    (4) Be especially careful at intersections. Most accidents happen at intersections. It’s not uncommon for vehicles to run red lights, especially shortly after the light has turned red. Traffic lights in Thailand are typically timed very long, so people will run through the light so they don’t have to wait several minutes.

    (5) Braking: We recommend that you use both the front and rear brakes when you brake. Be especially careful to not squeeze the front brake lever suddenly; you should squeeze the lever gradually so that it takes a full second to reach the full braking point. If the front brake lever is squeezed hard and suddenly, it can cause the motorcycle to skid and crash, or even to flip forward. When approaching a curve, you should brake to slow the motorcycle down before entering the curve, go through the curve at a slow, safe speed, and then you can begin to accelerate as you come out of the curve. If you find it necessary to brake when you’re already in the curve, you should primarily use the rear brake; using only the front brake can easily lead to skidding and crashing. You can use the front brake along with the rear brake if you are careful to squeeze the lever gently.

    (6) Also be careful in blind curves (where you can’t see far ahead). It’s not wise to take a blind curve as fast as the motorcycle can safely go through it, because you don’t know what’s up ahead. There could be a dog, cows, an accident, a truck driving VERY slowly, or a vehicle coming toward you. Many Thai drivers will pass in blind curves, or will cut the corner when going through a curve, so it’s common that as you come around a curve you’ll find yourself heading toward a vehicle coming toward you that has crossed over into your lane. If you ride in the left side of the lane to avoid possible oncoming vehicles in your lane, then you have the danger of gravel. On country roads, gravel sometimes accumulates on the side of the road, and sometimes it comes into the outside (left side) of the road’s lane. Hitting gravel when leaning a motorcycle in a curve can easily cause the rider to lose control and crash the motorcycle.

    (7) Exercise caution if you need to ride in rain. Braking distance increases significantly on wet pavement, so you should drive more slowly. If the rain is obscuring your vision, it can help to raise the visor of your helmet to enable you to see ahead better.

    (8) It’s better not to drive at night outside of towns and cities, unless you’re an experienced rider and use caution. Most motorcycle headlights do not shine very far ahead, so obstacles ahead are more difficult to see. Statistics show that most serious traffic accidents in Thailand occur between 6 and 9 p.m., when there’s a lot of traffic but poor visibility.

    (9) If you need to go down a long, steep hill, you should not use the motorcycle’s brakes continually. This can cause the brakes to overheat and fail to work. Find a gear that’s good for the speed you want to go, and then ride in gear, letting the engine help brake the motorcycle, and only use the motorcycle’s brakes intermittently.
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  4. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Noted with many thanks...

    Me just got back from Ko Lanta, on the way back also saw an accident opposite direction, believe that is also Malaysian Bikers (large group of them) going for the Phuket Bikes Week...
     
  5. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    Thanks for original post and info when I first rode in Chaing Mai I found the gt tips invaluable .I instuct advanced riding in the UK and the police roadcraft guide - to always be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear and remain on your side of the road is good advice and has helped me .
    Safe riding
    Paul
     
  6. jimboy

    jimboy Ol'Timer

    Thanks to Paul for writing the guide. Everything helps. If I may, I would like to emphasize three points for the readers here:
    - Alcohol is involved in more than 80% of all lethal accidents in Thailand. Avoid night riding and you avoid the most dangerous time of day. It is the alcohol not the darkness that is the causal factor.
    - Braking. Here's the fun part. Provided your motorcycle is in tip-top condition it is worth practising emergency stops. Start slowly and somewhere there is no traffic. Squeeze the front brake progressively harder from 20mph, 25mph, 30mph, etc, so you get the feel for how hard you can brake. In principle, provided your motorcycle is in good condition, the braking force is limited only by the adhesion of the front tyre. This means that ultimate brake force will result in the rear wheel lifting which you can counter slightly with the application of the rear brake. Only when the rear wheel lifts are you utilizing all the available braking force. Naturally, this takes practise so start gently and don't expect to brake like a Honda Repsol MotoGP rider.
    To achieve the most braking force it is essential the bike is upright and the road surface is dry. For loose surfaces be especially careful since over-braking can result in a front-wheel slide (release the brake fast) or a high-side crash from torque passed back from the rear wheel when it loses traction and then suddenly regains it (pull in the clutch *real* fast).
    - Corners. This is simple. You must be able to stop before you hit anything in front of you. Therefore your stopping distance should not exceed your visible horizon. In Thailand literally anything can be in your path (on corners I have avoided dogs, people, elephants, parked pick-up trucks, bricks and boulders, and even a refrigerator.)
    Enjoy!
     
  7. jimboy

    jimboy Ol'Timer

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    Even the experts get it wrong - Dani Pedrosa, Sachsenring MotoGP.
     
  8. brucegsrider

    brucegsrider Ol'Timer

    Don't forget oily roads, especially after rain.

    Also any painted road surface is slippery when wet.

    I particularly hate areas close to palm oil processing plants.
     
  9. jimbobs

    jimbobs Ol'Timer

    Around Roi et it can get very slippery when they have been cutting the sugar cane
    Found the back wheel spin many a time even easing the throttle
    I am in construction and have been the manager on road jobs
    It's a completely different tarmac in Thailand
    Also in Isaan if you see a Bush in the road it is basically a road cone in the UK
    It can mean there is a problem up ahead or a hole in the road beware
    I don't drive of a night if I can help it I see tractors and Tuk tuks with no lighting or old CDs as reflectors
    I nearly rear ended one one night and of course the dogs love to sleep in the road
     
  10. Carol-Jadzia

    Carol-Jadzia Member

    I wrote this essay for people wishing to travel to Thailand from England. I hope you find it of interest.

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    The wise man tells you where you have fallen and where you yet may fall
    Invaluable secrets, Follow him, follow the way
    .
    -Buddha.



    There are many things that make the UK similar to Thailand. Both countries have a Monarchy and we are about the same size. We all drive on the left and Thailand has adopted many aspects of the UK Highway code. One thing that differs greatly however is road safety. Both countries have a driving test, but there is a higher standard required in the UK then in Thailand. There are however other concerning licensing issues in Thailand. For example, many Thai drivers using the highways do not have a qualified licence to do so, or they got their licences so long ago that they did not require a test, but instead they simply bought their licence. Not all drivers on Thai roads are bad though, in general Thai people are very polite and courteous people. Even so, it is is reported as globally one of the most dangerous countries in which to be a road user, with some reports even claiming it as the most dangerous place in the world in which to ride a motorcycle." Thailand has the highest Rates of Motorcycle deaths per 100000 population in the World-Six times the average rate for Motorcycle fatalities. ".

    In the UK we have a complex path of training and testing before a rider can achieve a full motorcycle licence. Everyone must first do a basic training course before being allowed on the road while displaying learner rider plates. Once the rider is ready to advance, they must undertake a three part test consisting of a computer based theory test, a closed road practical skills test and a final on-road test. Restrictions on engine capacity and age also apply to new riders. Someone wanting to ride a large engine capacity motorbike must either have 2 years riding experience or be over the age of twenty four. They must then pass both of the riding tests on a large CC motorcycle.
    Post test and once a period of rider experience is gained there are many advanced rider training courses on offer to UK riders. These are conducted by either the Royal Society for the prevention of accidents, The Institute of Advanced Motorists, Approved Rider Training Schools or Police linked training courses. All of these currently use the Police Riders Training Manual known simply as Roadcraft as the teaching standard.

    As well as the training standard for police officers, Roadcraft became the standard of training for all professional riders and also anyone wishing to improve their defensive riding skills.

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    The Thai Motorcycle tests is a formal event, similar to but not as stringent as it's UK equivalent. I would think that it may sometimes cause an issue to Thai people due to it's very pass or fail nature. This must make it hard to deal with in a society that puts a high cost on keeping face and avoiding confrontation. Although Roadcraft teaches a basic set of rules, it is very different in it's approach to the more common standards of driver and Rider training. The Roadcraft manual is however a teaching aid used by experienced instructors to construct courses for newer riders, that can give insight into their years of riding experience. Think of Roadcraft as a base of defensive riding skills to be built on. Of particular note is that when instructed correctly, it does appear to have common ground in line with Buddhist teachings working as it does towards self improvement. It prescribes a process of systematically working through the way that you as a rider, approaches the act of riding. It is not a case of right and wrong, but is more about discussing ways to improve rider skills and finding the safest path as you travel along the highway.



    I must start by saying that if the reader does intend to ride in Thailand and were then to apply a full and proper risk assessment to your plans, then they are likely to come to the conclusion that they should either go somewhere else (which would be. a shame as Thailand is an amazing country to explore on two wheels) or to simply not ride a bike at all which in my view is a great opportunity missed. One report that I read recently from the Pulitzer Centre web site (link below) states that the UK, which has a similar sized population to Thailand, has about two thousand road traffic accident (RTA) attributed deaths per year. In comparison, Thailand they report, has on average twenty six thousand RTA attributed deaths every year.
    http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/asia-cambodia-motorcylce-death-accidents-public-health

    There are many reasons for this reported high accident rate and I will try to cover as many as I can of these in the following advice. Please note that although the Roadcraft manual is set out in manner that you can work through it in a stand alone fashion, it is normally used as part of a comprehensive training programme tailored to the individual trainee's level of skill and experience. My aim here is to be sharing a small part of the theory behind the thinking of Roadcraft, along with my experience gained from riding in the UK and Thailand and finally how I think it can be applied in Thailand.



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    How ever many books you read or web sites you visit, you can not substitute this for real road user experience. There are a lot of new ideas coming out about how to make the roads safer. If you really want to get inside the head of Motorcyclists and understand road safety take a look at the following link, 'No surprise - No Accident'.
    http://nosurprise.org.uk/

    Roadcraft can help you address gaps in that experience and help you look at things in a different way, it is however up to you the rider to put the advice into practice. Although some friends and I are hoping to set up a training school in Thailand soon, there are already some training schools in existence including Toyota and Honda. Both companies have invested their time and resources in creating training programmes for Thai road users. Unfortunately this does not have the ease of access that the advanced training available in the UK, where there are police examiners and advanced rider training organisations in every region of the country.

    There is something though that you really must consider when developing your road skills and that is that your attitude and mood as you ride are just as important as how you ride and can have a serious effect on how you interact with other road users.
    If you are new to the country then remember riding in Thailand can cause a great deal of stress and the result of which is that it is easy to get angry or even aggressive with the actions of other road users. If you feel that they are pushing in and driving aggressively then give this piece of information some consideration. Most Thai people are Buddhist, their life view is different to most European riders (unless you are Buddhist of course) and the truth is that they are not being aggressive towards you. Simply put, do not try to interpret their actions in the standard Western fashion. However, with this in mind it is also worth remembering that it has been reported by some agencies in Thailand, that alcohol is considered a contributory factor in over eighty percent of fatal road accidents in Thailand.



    The experience of riding a motorcycle in Thailand is very different to many other places in the world, so do not assume that experience gained in the more regulated countries has equipped you with the road skills which you will need for Thailand. I apologise if this sounds like I am either stating the obvious or patronising your skills as a rider. For a lot of your riding in this beautiful country it may appear to not be the case, but just occasionally it can be a life saving point to remember. It is my hope that as you read through the following you will come to understand why I have made ​​this statement. For example, there is a very common saying on Thai Forums "Tit" or often typed As "but TIT", which means "This is Thailand" or But This is Thailand "and this is normally used As an explanation for Something that Most Westerners. would consider strange.

    Some tips to consider are the following. Look where you want to go; with so many things to look at in this beautiful country, remember to try to avoid target fixation. Keep your eyes on the furthest point to which you want to go. Your view will include the hazards you want to avoid. Also it is worth remembering that given how the human body interacts with your motorcycle, the machine is going to go where you are looking. If you are trying to avoid something, look past it not at it.

    A motorcycle is a very small object in a very large picture and as such is often easily lost against a variety of backgrounds making us often invisible to a stressed and hurrying car, truck or bus driver. The often praised Hi-vis yellow or green jackets will simply blend in against the vivid greens of the lush plant life background of natural Thailand.

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    What do you expect to see? This may be the opposite of riding in the familiar European or even North American situations that most of us know so well. Yet although Thailand's roads may seem familiar to us, you can often find situations that are most certainly not be 'as expected' round the next bend. Remember to Check the Bike's Mirrors before entering the Bend so that You are Aware of What is behind you for when you advance round the Corner and Can no Longer See What is Behind You. What's the most important thing to look at? - Where you are going. Do not get too drawn in by the view.

    Rear observations. First of all, let us give insight into what we generally consider to be all round observation. Most bikes tend to have mirrors, great for telling you what's behind you. But have you ever checked your mirrors, seen nothing and then found something almost alongside you? We call this the blind spot. If you are going to change your position on the road, then it is in your best interest to have a look, a simple glance over your shoulder to cover that 'blind spot' before changing position on the road and moving directly into the path of. the vehicle you could not see. You could even try this out while parked up, just sit on your bike and look in the mirrors as you normally would. What is the most that you can see to the left and right? Now turn your head to glance over your shoulder and see what you missed. The most important observation of all is the right turn look known as the 'Life Saver', a motorcycle equivalent of look before you leap. Do not forget to make sure you are not being overtaken just before the turn.

    A good piece of safety advice is to watch your mirrors consistently and if there is another vehicle moving very fast behind you that presents a hazard, you then have the option to either make progress and escape the hazard or more safely, or you can pull over. and allow the fast moving vehicle to pass safely by you.

    Does Sound that a bit drastic? Well consider this, while I was in Thailand with My Partner, we tried to Spend As much time Riding bikes As we could. However as needs must, there were also times when we were also conveyed about by the other forms of transport at our disposal. These vehicles consisted of the usual tourist vehicles such as Taxis, Tuk Tuks, Trains, Boats, motorcycle combinations, Mini buses and the ever faithful Thai Coaches.Although I will consider the other vehicles mentioned here later, I will explain with the example of the observations I made ​​on the rural bus services, why you should pull over and allow them to pass by. Long distance bus services on main tourist routes tend to use modern air conditioned coaches. However, once you look a little deeper, past the fancy frilly interiors and the assortment of charms to ward of bad spirits, you will often see impact scars, cracked windscreens and long scratches in the paint. This is a warning of what is ahead of you in your journey.

    The Thai Coach Driver does not wish anyone harm or malice, far from it. It is very likely that He is a Buddhist (over 90% of Thai people are) and As such there is a good Chance that He thus believes in Reincarnation ' If You Mess up this lifetime, You Will hopefully do better in the next '.

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    He also believes that his spirit charms are going to protect everyone on the coach from an accident. On the day that you wish to travel you will also see that he has waited as long as he can for the late connections to arrive at his starting point. It is entirely likely that he has poured another ten gallons of water in the leaking radiator and he is now trying to get his passengers on to the cramped and often over booked coach and then on to their connections on time. He knows he can hold the vehicle at a steady speed of 60 kph long as he does not slow down, the 60kph limit on the roads is perceived as the expected standard speed for all vehicles and thus if he has to slow down he is wasting time. or likely to be late. He simply wants to keep everyone happy and make it on time to the destinations he is booked to arrive at. If that means that as he comes up behind another but slower moving road user just as they are entering a bend, he will overtake on that bend. Even if that bend is a blind corner and he can not see oncoming traffic! Believe me, this happens often.

    The bus drivers which we have witnessed on our travels also like spending lots of time chatting on their mobile phone, something that has been outlawed in many Western nations and is also illegal in Thailand. There are no PSV or HGV tests in Thailand. All drivers have only passed the same standard test, or they have bought their driving licence! That is food for thought.

    " Motorcycle Vulnerability. Does not matter who causes the accident,.
    the motorcycle will normally come off worse. ".

    Are you a tourist or are you a migrant now living in Thailand? Many Thai and ex-pat Bikers you meet in Thailand do wear some degree of protective clothing, albeit some for longer journeys and distance riding only while others will wear leathers all of the time. Notice that I say Bikers rather than the majority of two wheeled vehicle road users who are normally just wearing a t-shirt, shorts and a pair of flip-flops or beach sandals. The great consideration with riding in Thailand is whether to clad yourself in racing leathers and then attempt to go sight seeing away from the motorcycle in temperatures that can be 40 degrees centigrade or more. Clearly you are not going to make it far from the bike. But some degree of protection should be considered. A lightweight well vented bike jacket if you are intending to ride. Another consideration to make concerns baggage restrictions on flights which can cause a problem for travelling bikers. On my earlier visits to Thailand I had borrowed a helmet from the Motorcycle Hire shop. Well I say helmet, but I use this in the loosest possible terms, they were more like a cycle helmet from the early 1990s than anything we would use as a motorcycle helmet in Europe.

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    A problem that you will face as a traveller is that good quality helmets are hard to find in Thailand. As I have stated, there are many cheap alternatives and of these many of them are made in China from very cheap and often inferior materials that not only fail helmet testing, but can and do fall apart in use. On a recent trip, my partner and I carried our own Shoei helmets from the UK with us on the plane as hand luggage, secured in helmet bags. As you can imagine this was a pain to do because they took up a large chunk of our hand luggage allowance, but as soon as we hit the road, it was well worth it. I also wore my lightweight Cordura (textile) vented summer jacket on the plane so that I had a safe riding jacket to use once there.Although this is not the place to debate the use of protective equipment by riders, it does demonstrate the lack of understanding or concern by many tourists of the dangers of their actions. It's never too hot to wear some form of protection just as it's never too hot to have an accident.

    One thing that I would stress though is this, even if you can not stand the heat and you do want to bare all while riding in Thailand, do at least carry some decent bike gloves with you to use. I can never understand why people would ride without gloves, the damage which even a small slip or slow speed fall can do to the hands will render a rider unable to ride any further or in extreme cases carry out necessary acts of personal hygiene.

    There are a few other road hazards that could do with a separate mention and I will explain some of them now. As is common in every country in the world, there are many commercial vehicles on Thai roads. However these vehicles are not subject to many of the common European safety standards and any standards that do apply are often simply ignored. During a ride near Khao Sok National Park, we were stopped by police officers who had set up a checkpoint and were stopping everyone. They looked over US, smiled and waved US Past. However later that night I spoke to a local friend of ours and I enquired as to why we had been stopped. The reason was one of road safety. The local police set up this check point because of the long downhill run shortly after the stop point. They have to stop and check many vehicles because so many of them are not suitable or capable to descend the hill safely. This is not to imply that it is an overly steep hill, the truth is that many of the vehicles stopped are dangerously overloaded or so poorly maintained (or both) that they are a danger to other road users.



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    We have been told on several occasions to be careful of lorries on Thai roads because it is common knowledge that many of the lorry drivers use amphetamines to stay awake and then work a double shift to increase their wages. This is a common warning given as a reason as to why it is not safe to ride motorcycles on Thai roads at night. Overloading of commercial vehicles is also a common problem in Thailand and for the tourists crammed into the back of a flat bed truck on a road trip, seeing a vehicle lose all or part of it's load can be a daily occurrence that often leads to serious accidents.





    One of the most dangerous of all of the road users is the 'Farang'. Better known to us as a tourist, or to put it another way, you and I. At the main tourist locations in Thailand you will find fleets of scooters for hire from many shops that often live on the foot paths in the busy sections of town. centres. Part of the reason for the popularity of the hired scooter is down to a problem with the Taxis available to tourists. Although the current government is trying to crack down on corruption, there are still be issues with overcharging Taxi's - on the island of Koh Samui for example, it is almost impossible to find a Taxi Driver who will use his taxi meter, even though he is. legally required to do so. The drivers prefer to agree a fixed price before undertaking a journey and this is often charged at a far higher price than an equivalent journey on the meter. In simple terms, a days rental of a scooter can cost about the same as the average Taxi Trip. Also what's nicer on a very hot day than taking a cooling ride on a motorcycle? Bare in mind though that the loan helmets are normally no more protective than a cheap and battered cycle helmet and it is very likely that no other protective equipment will be provided. With little or no official checks on hire vehicles, it is often left to the scruples of the hire shop, as to whether the scooter you are about to hire is road worthy and on many occasions the state of the hire bike is often far short of. what we would expect of a similar machine here in Europe. Often the only requirement for hire is that someone leaves their passport and forget about insurance or even checking to see if you are a qualified rider.

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    As a precaution, before we even made our way to Thailand for our several trips, we have always made sure we had got our international driving permits. To drive in some countries, this is not only sensible but a legal requirement, yet despite our having them, not once were we asked for them to prove that we were qualified to ride the machines we hired. Even when hiring larger CC bikes, we were never asked to produce them. It does not take long to see the results of this slack attitude to wards ensuring that riders are qualified and as a result the roads tend to be filled with tourists who then drive or ride in ways that would get them stopped by the Police back home. I am not implying that this is the case for all of the tourists in Thailand, far from it, but there are thousands of scooters for hire and little regulation. Also remember your travel Insurance may not cover you for riding a motorcycle, best to check as most do not as standard.

    While in Thailand my partner and I have ridden around some of the places where we have been at night. We have also been out on the very quiet roads near our friends in Khao Sok National park in the evenings. Yet on the night that we followed new friends home one night so that we go back and visit them the following day we witnessed some truly terrible riding. This was a regular 5 mile trip for him and his wife and as was fairly usual for them both, they had both had been drinking heavily for most of the afternoon. At the time of going home, nothing was mentioned by his friends or his partner, apart from a reference to often not making it the whole way home and waking up in a ditch. Drink driving and riding is a worrying aspect of riding on foreign roads for any traveller, but seeing it first hand in Thailand was worrying for us.

    There are many potential hazards in Thailand, what is also important to remember is the lack of proper emergency care. The larger hospitals in Tourist areas have state of the art facilities, mainly due to the money they make from Tourists (many of them road accident victims). Off the beaten tourist track, emergency care can be poor to almost non existent. The emergency responders are often volunteers and although they do an amazing job, they are not trained to the level of European Paramedics. Nor do they have the same levels of equipment and they most certainly have no charity supported emergency helicopters with spine supporting rescue boards either.
    About another thing to note is that many Riding at Night in Thailand animals Will Come out to Sleep in the evening Cooler Warm Air on the tarmac, animals that include Dogs, Snakes and scorpions!

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    When you are riding your bike in your home country, did you ever consider that maybe moving out towards the centre of the road on the approach to a left hand bend (right hand bend in most of Europe where they drive on the right hand side of. the road) will not only give you a better view through the bend, but also a better riding line as well? This is a common advanced riding technique, yet if used in Thailand it has the potential of putting you right into the path of a vehicle approaching from a blind bend on your side of the road, a problem that I have seen many times while riding in Thailand.

    Another big danger point is drivers performing U-turns. The main routes in Thailand often have two or three lane duel carriageways with the main means of turning around being via a U-turn through the central reservation slip way. Sometimes when a lorry needs to swing through this gap in the central reservation, they may need to choose to turn into a U-turn from the left hand side of the road. Unfortunately with the vehicles not always being maintained correctly, you can not always rely on them showing their indicators. As such it is always a good Idea to Make the Link between U-turn Signs on the Road Ahead Moving Slowly and lorries, stopped on the left Hand Side of the Road or just slowing in the Centre orOutside Lane. You will occasionally see some cars and motorcycles attempt a similar U-turn from the left hand side of the road. In this case they travel across to the far side of the road and will often simply return the way they came, even if it means continuing along the carriageway in the wrong direction!

    Motorcyclists (and some car drivers) are generally under the impression that they may join a major road by turning left with impunity. It is unlikely that they will check to see if it's safe for them to pull out. In a similar style, some drivers and riders will pass you rapidly while you head along the motorcycle lane, only to brake suddenly and attempt to turn left just past you.
    There are many Songthiews in Thailand. These are flat bed pick up trucks with bench seats fitted into the back and are used as local transport often for tourists. They are often brightly painted with a lot of extra lights and yet despite their visibility, the drivers will often pull over in front of you without warning, just to pick up a fare all before they then perform a U-turn on pulling away again. They are often seriously overloaded with people hanging off the back and sides and are normally driven erratically. The other modern version of this transport (which can be compared to a much more familiar figure - the European white van man.) Is the Thai White Minibus and its often erratic driver. Often these vans and their drivers are employed to move folks between transit links (airports, ferry terminals or bus stations) or used as last minute alternatives if the normal transport fails. Sadly for the tourists these vans are normally in a rush, occasionally are in poor repair and are often involved in accidents.


    Lane discipline is all but unheard of. Many Thai drivers will just slowly cruise along in the outside lane while other road users are forced to pass them on the left (undertake). Sudden turns or lane changes with out the use of indicators are also horribly common and should be watched for. Thais will also take the quickest way to their destination, even if this involves driving or riding on the wrong side of a section of road. Despite the risks to themselves and other road users, we have seen them and this is what they do.


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    Another cultural aspect to note while travelling in Thailand is the abundance of spirit houses. Every house has one and the average one looks to bemused European tourists like a posh bird table. Their size is a reflection of wealth and as such they often reflect the property they are attached to. A famous one is the Erawan Shrine. ( http://www.bangkok.com/shrines/erawan-shrine.htm #)
    Built to keep the spirits happy, you will often find spirit houses located on dangerous corners. In Thai culture, if there is an accident on a corner, it was caused by spirits who must be angry or mischievous. The custom states that if there are more accidents on a dangerous corner or the brow of a hill, then you need more spirit houses. The advantage of this to the tourist is that if there are loads of spirit houses on the side of the road, then you can safely assume that it's an accident black spot.



    Thailand can suffer during monsoons and riding in really heavy rain is always going to be hazardous. The extra safety distances we Europeans apply as a matter of course when driving on soaked flooded roads are not adhered to in Thailand. Tailgating is a very common and I would simply refer you back to the earlier advice of just pull over and let it pass. Yes, it is entirely possible that the next car, truck or van will tailgate as well, but unfortunately that is often the only safe option that you have if you are concerned. Rain storms do not often last for very long and you will find that many Thais will pull over and wait for the rain to stop. This can cause an extra hazard as they all tend to congregate under bridges and even block the road. You should also note the heavy duty road grates for the storm drains. During the monsoon, there can be a lot of rain falling at anyone time, as such drains need to be large, but as is the way with countries like Thailand, the grates are often broken. Remember the old adage that "only a fool brakes the two second rule" and you can then add "if it's starting to pour, then make it four!" Do not be pressurised by other vehicles on wet and slippery roads, if they are. too close to you, then simply back off and allow them to pass in safety. It is far better to enjoy your ride in safety than under stress and danger from impatient road users.


    " Heavy rain Can Distort and your perception.

    cause you to ride faster than you realise. ".

    Thai road maintenance can be hit or miss. Many Thai roads are in really good order with main routes mostly covered in good quality tarmac, while the minor roads tend to be concrete slabs, if they are surfaced at all. Watch out for unfinished edges. Many curbstones are broken and many storm drains have concrete covers that can also be cracked and broken. Sometimes when roads can get washed away in the heavy rain, Thai "diversions" can be interesting as the temporary road bridges are normally just barely solid enough to make the road passable.


    One of my most wonderful memories of riding near the rainforest of Khao Sok National Park was passing elephants which were being led home along the road. These majestic animals are beautiful to look at but capable of doing a lot of damage if frightened or enraged. I give these domesticated elephants the same respect as I would a horse and rider. However, you will need to be extra cautious if the animals are wild. There are occasional reports of Elephants on Musth (in a state of arousal) getting very agitated and charging at cars and bikes that appear to challenge them. There are also many other wild animals that it is worth keeping a look out for. But I would say the biggest problem you as a rider are likely to encounter is from a more common and domesticated animal. This is because Thailand has a bit of a Dog Problem. There are many strays all over the country and these animals will often be seen chasing motorcycles. It is also worth mentioning that Thailand still has cases of Rabies reported each year, so it is wise to try to give aggressive dogs a wide birth and be prepared speed in order to outrun a chaser (dog that is, not the Police!).
    There is nothing you can do to change the way others use Thailand's roads, however you can change your own ways to make them safer.

    As a nation, Thais are very polite and despite the heavily congested traffic. you do not often hear vehicle horns in Bangkok. People will often give way on duel carriageways and at junctions, although it seems everyone on a bike has to push to the front. Despite this, the Thai people rarely get aggressive about it. The thing to remember is that to a Thai, getting aggressive means you have already lost the argument by default. They also do not use the British concept of saying thank you if you give way to them when on the road, which can seem rude to many non Thai people. Many believe that they earn merit by helping others, which is a Buddhist understanding. So you must understand this and do not simply assume they are rude.


    In Thailand a vehicle's hazard flashing indicators are often used to show that something is moving. Do not rely on them to Warn Other Road Users You have when stopped, because in some cases they will even be used to suggest the vehicle displaying them is going straight on at a Junction. You should also be careful because of the number of vehicles have defective bulbs as well, which leads to all sorts of confusion on busy Thai roads. In bright sunlight indicators can be hard to be seen, so you may wish to consider supporting your flashing turn signals with arm signals. However you do need to bare in mind that many Thai road users may not recognise the more advanced arm signals either. As such it is also considered acceptable to use an audible warning of approach.





    Section 44 (500B) Thai Land Transport Act. (Translation)


    A driver who wishes to overtake or pass another vehicle in the roadway with no traffic lane mark shall use sound signals loud enough to let the driver who is driving the vehicle in front know of his intention and, after the driver of the vehicle in front gives. a responding signal pursuant to Section 37 c. or Section 38 c. (Left blinker or corresponding hand signal), then may proceed to overtake.






    Some Police officers use Whistles for traffic controls.

    1 long blast STOP - 2 Short Blasts Go.

    Traffic lights in Thailand are the same as those found in the UK. More usefully though, they often come with a count down to when they are going to change, but this does not always mean that a Thai road user will notice them, so always expect something to come through a stop light. The left turn is treated similar to an American right turn - you can turn left at a stop light and it's safe to do so, but watch out for other drivers and Riders will do so even when it is not safe to do so.


    A general rule in Thailand is the bigger the vehicle - the greater it's right of way.
    This is not official but it often feels as if it is.



    Always ride at such a speed that you can stop safely on your side of the road
    in the distance you can see you be clear.




    Can Remember bends tighten up and in Thailand there is an Endless list of possibilities that are just next Around the Corner . Many are spectacular and amazing views and vistas, but just as likely is that it could also be a bus coming towards you on your side of the road. In Some Cases there are possible risks of a waterfall or after Heavy rain following Flood? Give Yourself an extra reduction in speed to be Ready for anything. There are plenty of empty roads with good clear views to have fun on, however if you can not see then assume the worst and always remember the acronym "TiT" which for the uninitiated simply means, This is Thailand!


    Use every opportunity to get information about the road ahead.
    As a driver or rider, you should try to make links between what you can see and what you should be wary of. For example take advantage of the view, opportunities to see around or between other vehicles, buildings or the general scenery. Look at the tree line if you can not see where the road goes. Is that car ahead of you going to pull out? Watch his wheels for movement. Stay back from large vehicles to get a better view down the inside or outside of the vehicle depending on your position, you should also give yourself time to react if they lose part of their load.


    Thai multi-way junctions can be an art form in their own right, simply put, everybody just picks an exit and aims for it! As a tourist it is probably best for you to try to do the same, while keeping as big a safety bubble around you as you can. It takes eyes in all directions because that is where it seems that everyone is going. So be confident, pick your exit, try to asses the trajectories of all of the vehicles entering the junction and look out for any vehicles that are potentially crossing your path. You have to just to Some extent Go for it. Look towards where You are going with regular scans of Mirrors and sides and TRY to Avoid Other Target Fixation on any one Rider. Concentrate about where you are heading, unless someone invades your safety bubble forcing you to react. A constant speed is advisable and remember the Thai's are used to riding like this, so are therefore used to avoiding other road users.

    Oncoming vehicles are not going to dip their lights in the same manner as expected in Europe. Some will, and others will not understand. Many will have badly fitted extra lights as well. Remember the curb rule. If you are about to be dazzled by the oncoming vehicle look down to the left curb, looking as far ahead as you can but not into the point of glare. Follow that until the vehicle has passed. You can also try to scrub off some speed until you can see again if it is safe behind you to do so ..
    Human factors that affect observation and anticipation.
    Tiredness - jet-lag. Heat. A totally new environment as a tourist.
    Many riders involved in an accident will not admit fault and therefore do not learn from their mistakes. Think about these figures and how they apply to you.
    In two out of three traffic collisions, human error is the principle cause.

    One in three drivers involved in a daylight collision with a motorcyclist, failed to look properly and thus did not see them coming along the road prior to the accident. At night this raises to over half.

    When overtaking or filtering, do so carefully and try not to make yourself the meat in a traffic sandwich!
    Double your speed = quadruple your stopping distance.

    Thailand is a beautiful country to explore by motorcycle. However it is far better to arrive late than not at all.

    [​IMG]

    Carol and Allen

    [​IMG]





    Further Reading: -
    Books:
    Roadcraft
    UK Police Riders Handbook
    ISBN 978-0-11-708188-8
    http://www.roadcraft.co.uk/motorcycle-roadcraft

    Full essay and further links on

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