Driving in Thailand: Some words to the wise

Ari Station Sept 2006.JPG
(A rare lull in traffic outside the Ari skytrain station. Photo (c) Adamu)

It is dangerous to drive in Thailand, I have recently learned:

Cars wear down quickly in Thailand because most roads are paved in concrete, not asphalt, and because it is hot and humid year-round. Other factors contributing to wear and tear include fraud at the service station, including repairmen replacing new parts with used ones and bringing in cars for the same repairs over and over again.

Many expats living in Thailand hire drivers, but the drivers can be unreliable. Often they will show up late or not at all. And when they do show up, they may drive drunk or on drugs. If you decide to fire an irresponsible driver, watch out: he may try and get revenge.

The traffic conditions in Thailand are infamously dangerous. In fact, statistically every car on the road will experience an accident each year (as opposed to about 1/4 of cars in Japan). Insurance coverage, on the other hand, is often extremely low, with personal injury coverage often less than 1 million baht (about US$27,000).

In the pretty likely scenario that you are in an auto accident, be aware that many public hospitals do not have ambulances of their own. And you may have to wait for the ambulance for a while, since you can’t go to the hospital until an insurance inspector arrives on the scene. Further, emergency personnel may not do much until they know you can pay for their services.

Still, Thailand’s roads aren’t nearly as dangerous as, say, Pakistan‘s. (More info on driving in Thailand can be found here)