Simple Road Safety Tips When Renting a Scooter in Phuket
Phuket is a beautiful island, and if you don’t travel around, then you will miss out on so much. Of course, they are many excellent organised tours, but often you want to take things at your own pace and not be dictated to about what you do or don’t see. It is worth taking some time out and getting a plan about what you want to see and what else is close by.
One of the best ways to get around Phuket is on a scooter, but you want to make sure you use a reputable company so why not rent a scooter at phuketairportscooterrental.com? That way, you can be confident that you have rented a bike which is roadworthy and safe to drive. However, you must appreciate that driving in Phuket, isn’t the same as what you may be used to, so here a few simple tips to help you stay safe.
- Drive on the left
Although it may sound a little obvious, in Thailand you drive on the left-hand side. It is something that can take some getting used to if you are from many parts of Europe or the US, for example. If you are more accustomed to driving on the right, take your time to get used to everything, especially at junctions.
- Expect the unexpected!
Regardless of where you drive in the world, you should always keep your wits about you. However, that is even more, the case in Thailand. Thailand has one of the highest numbers of road casualties in the world as the standard of driving can leave something to be desired! Always double check your mirrors before turning or changing lanes and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get out of the way. It is common for traffic to be travelling at excess speed.
Drivers should also be aware that traffic will frequently be travelling in the wrong direction on one-way streets and sois so always look both ways before turning. Although locals don’t tend to leave much braking distance, it is recommended as other drivers tend to stop unexpectedly should they see friends or a street food seller.
- Never get road rage
The worst thing that you can ever do when driving in Thailand is to display anger, no matter how tempting it may be. Losing face in Thailand can result in an extreme reaction, so biting your lip is to be advised. Hand gestures, particularly the raising of the middle finger, are likely to be met with an aggressive response. It is not uncommon for drivers in Thailand to carry weapons so you may get far more than what you bargained for!
- Use of the horn
Using your horn in Thailand is generally not a sign of aggression; it is merely to let others know of your presence. Drivers in Thailand can be easily distracted, so making them aware you are there may save you from a minor accident. Although this may be alien to you, it can be wise to use your horn if the person in front is behaving erratically. It shouldn’t be too loud or done with aggression and a pleasant smile as you pass will also help.
- Quality of the roads
Although the roads in Phuket have certainly improved in recent years, there are still a lot of streets that have potholes, particularly towards the sides. Being aware of the quality of the roads and giving yourself time to react to potential problems is a necessity in Thailand. It is one of the many reasons why you should watch your speed as hitting a hole in the road can cause serious injury and significant damage to your bike.
It is worth noting that other drivers do tend to park anywhere, often as close as they can get to where they want to go. It can mean that cars are stopped in driving lanes even if they are blocking traffic at a junction. Once again, allow yourself plenty of time to react and use care when pulling out. If you are parking, you should avoid parking where there is a continuous yellow or red line.
- Inexperienced drivers
Phuket is an island which is full of tourists, many of whom will never have ridden a scooter before as many companies don’t check if the renter has the appropriate license. While twist and go bikes are easy to become accustomed to, you should be prepared for nervous and shaky drivers. It goes back to point #2; you should expect the unexpected. Remember, even if you are familiar with motorbikes, driving in Thailand is a whole new ball game.
Drivers and pedestrians should exercise care when crossing the road, even, if not more so, at a designated crossing. Very few drivers stop and show little regard for the signals. It is not uncommon for motorcyclists to get knocked off bikes for (correctly) stopping at a crossing and the vehicle behind driving into the back of them. Always double check before stopping and if in doubt, continue with caution.
- Traffic Lights
When you are at traffic lights, you will have probably noticed that the motorbikes congregate at the front. It is standard practice and indeed expected. We would recommend doing the same for your own safety but be prepared to set off quickly when the lights change. You should also be aware of traffic not stopping when the lights change to red, so make sure you conduct the necessary checks, both with vehicle travelling in a different direction and those behind.
- Common Sense
Finally, you should always use common sense when riding a scooter in Phuket. Always wear a helmet even if you are only travelling short distances and other drivers are ignoring the advice. Never drink and drive even if you have “only” had a couple of beers regardless of how tempting it may be. Finally, you should always carry your driving license with you. Really, this should be a Thai driving license or a valid international driving permit.