As you probably know Scuba Diving, although adventurous, is a very safe hobby. In fact, statistically diving is safer than driving a car, having a kid or running a marathon. And without a shadow of a doubt Scuba Diving is MUCH safer than riding a motorbike in Thailand!
Still, almost all of us working here drive motorbikes daily, and many visitors rent bikes as well during their stay here. As a dive company we would never accept the levels of risk involved in driving within diving, so we thought we’d give you a few tips on how to make your holiday safer and more fun, should you still plan to rent a bike.
First – realize your limitations
- · You may not have a lot of experience driving motorbikes.
- · You may not be accustomed to left side traffic.
- · You are most probably not used to the Thai way of cruising thru traffic.
- · You may want to have a cold beer on a hot day in Paradise.
Obviously, drinking alcohol is always something that does not mix with driving any vehicle. Adding the other factors like left-hand traffic and a completely different behaviour by other drivers compared to what you’re used to makes this combination even more dangerous and stupid. Remember: Tuk-tuks and taxis are cheap here! Enjoy that fact and make sure to spend your time on the beaches rather than in a hospital.
Dangers you may not have seen coming
- In Thailand, there are a lot of new factors that comes into play when you drive a motorbike. To name a few:
- · Dogs regularly decide to suddenly walk right into the street, just in front of traffic.
- · In Thailand, cars typically overtake one another at the exact moment they catch up with a car in front of them. No, they do not wait for a safe moment to present itself. They overtake and if someone is heading towards them, they will have to find room best they can or decide to very suddenly leave the road. Bad option. Be alert, and stay to the left side of the road.
- · Sudden change of lanes, or sudden u-turns. Indicators? No. This is a fact of life here.
- · Random bumps or holes in the road. Some of them will bring your ride to an abrupt halt if not avoided. Drive during daylight.
So how do you deal with these seemingly chaotic and suicidal tendencies by your fellow drivers? Here are a few good tips:
- · Wear a helmet.
- · Stay to the left – but after dark you need to acutely aware that there may be black cows walking in that lane, and they are invisible until your halfway up their rear. No joke. Drive during daylight.
- · Don’t drive faster than what will allow you to safely break to a complete stop within a few metres.
- · If not too familiar with motorbikes, identify the break for your back wheel. Use this break. Do not use the front break. If driving slowly, this will suffice to halt the bike as described above. If you are not used with bikes, using the front break may easily throw you of your bike, or tip it.
- · Right turns. A chapter of its own here in Thailand. We will just say that be super careful with these manoeuvres, and if needed, stop on the left side and wait for a safe opportunity to cross rather than to be left standing still in the middle of the road.
On Lanta we are currently training our staff in safe manoeuvres. We advise you to do the same for 30 minutes before negotiating the mysteries of Thai-traffic. Or, just go diving instead. It is way safer and way more fun!