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Traffic and Traffic Rules

Hua Hin Traffic and Traffic Rules

Traffic in many Asian countries like China, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines is notoriously bad. It may be described as hectic, chaotic and downright dangerous at best. Most roads are like poorly organized and badly sign-posted race tracks. But, at least the traffic on real race tracks all goes round in the same direction! However, even the etiquette of race track rules does not even apply here in Thailand. The stringent rules and regulations and tests that are compulsory in many developed countries for their roads are non-existent in some Asian countries. Thailand is no exception to this rule. Basically, there are no rules, well not rules that people observe anyway.

The test to drive legally on the road with a car or motorbike is a joke. Therefore, accidents causing broken arms, broken legs and broken necks along with ‘road rash’ or ‘Thai tattoos’ as they are commonly known in Thailand are everywhere. Road rash or a Thai tattoo is when a person from a motorbike either crashes their motorbike or is knocked off their motorbike by someone else. Many Thai people sport these tattoos on their arms and legs. Also, many tourists that come to Thailand and hire motorbikes end up with the same tattoos. Either way, the result is the same: nasty, permanent scars.


Thai police argue with a tuk-tuk driver - Photo: Colman Lerner Gerardo / Shutterstock.com

Usually, most people who ride motorbikes in a hot country wear little in the way of protective gear like helmets, jeans and leather jackets. Consequently, when human skin is dragged over tarmac or gravel roads and dirt tracks at speeds of as a little as 30 to 40 kilometres an hour, the results are horrendous. The skin gets completely shredded and ripped away from the flesh. Also, the amount of gravel, stones and dirt that becomes embedded into the flesh is shocking. Even after a road casualty has received medical attention and been released to recover, the story does not end there. Following Thailand’s relentless humidity, even the smallest cut or graze can take weeks or even months to dry up and heal completely. So, just imagine how long the skin may take to recover from a serious motorbike accident.

Thailand is also a country that allows vehicles to make a complete U-turn on a busy highway or motorway. This is dangerous enough when a small vehicle like a motorbike or car decides to do it. So, you can imagine how dangerous it is when a very long vehicle like a lorry decides to do it. Consequently, please keep constant lookouts for vehicles pulling into the road in front of you and directly in your fast lane.

Many of the main roads in Thailand – especially the road from Bangkok to Hua Hin – are fairly straight. This makes them pleasant to drive on with great views of mountains, salt farms, pineapple plantations and coconut farms. Most roads are three lane highways and there is usually plenty of space once you have left the city limits. Still, you do need to be aware of vehicles that will overtake you not only on the outside but also on the inside too. This is highly illegal in many developed countries but it is normal practice here. Again, take care and constantly check your mirrors.

Other things to be aware of, and to look out for, when using the roads are things like missing manhole covers and holes. Usually, these would be marked with traffic cones and barricades. Here, in Thailand, the most you can usually expect is a tree branch or an old car tyre to warn of the danger ahead. You must also be on the lookout for drivers carrying badly packed loads that hang out all over the sides of their lorries and trucks. During the Songkran water festival the death toll on Thailand’s roads increases significantly so always keep your wits about you and do not drive too fast. Too many people are killed on Thai roads every day.

Finally, traffic jams in the centre of Bangkok are notoriously heavy. From around 3:00pm in the afternoon the traffic starts to build up and is congested until late in the evening. If you are brave enough to try to drive through Bangkok’s streets you had either, better know where you are going, be able to read the Thai script road signs or, have a very reliable satellite navigation system on board your vehicle. If you take one wrong turn in this sprawling mass of a concrete jungle, you may end up adding on hours to the length of your journey. Bangkok’s Expressway roads are great ways to avoid some of the traffic. You have to pay a toll to use them but you can save a lot of time on your journey.

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