Avoiding Motorbike Accidents in Chiang Mai

According to Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt you're more likely to be killed walking drunk than driving drunk. And while motorbike accidents do happen, they don't kill as many people as the news would like you to believe.

According to an article in the Bangkok Post there are 7200 motorbike deaths per year and most of those are in the Bangkok area. With 80 million people in Thailand that's 0.009%—pretty good odds. Still people are concerned. Payap University is so concerned that they won't let semester abroad students drive a motorbike.

As unlikely as it is that you'll be in an accident, here are some tips for staying safe. Of all the motorbike accident stories I've heard they had at least one of these in common:

  • Driving at Night
  • Driving Fast
  • Driving Drunk

While it may be impractical to say never drive at night, I would advise you to be a passenger and watch when you first arrive in Thailand. Once you've gotten an understanding of the Thai driving system and start driving yourself, avoid driving at night. Then only once you've gotten comfortable during the day would I recommend driving at night.

A few other things to be aware of: flashing headlights by another vehicles is a warning meaning "get out of my way" and does not mean "I'll let you go" as it does in Western countries. Also, might makes right in Thailand and large vehicles do not stop for small vehicles.