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Self Driving in Thailand - Perception and reality

Self Driving in Thailand - Perception and reality

Old Feb 28th, 2018, 05:09 PM
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I think the 5 Es mentioned in the OP just about cover the situation...... The problem is they ALL need to be addressed as they are interdependent. This can be incredibly costly as Thailand drifts away from starting the solutions. In particular the new roads Thailand is building are potentially deadly.
As for roadworthiness , Thailand has very lax inspections,and you see some dreadfully dilapidated vehicles on the roads, but in general from the outside at least most road users like to keep their vehicles in good condition.
When I worked in Rome we had an expression to describe how the Italians like to keep their cars ... "al dente"!
We even had a competition one day to find a car without a dent..... we found a Benz limo that looked no more than a day old....a potential winner? Sadly no, it already had a dent the size of a golf ball in the rear wing/fender.
In road safety there is no such thing as an accident..... everything has a cause and in most crashes they are not simply the " fault" of one driver there are multiple factors that contribute and exacerbate the results.
It has been said that UK and Thailand have about the same number of collisions or crashes, it is just that in Thailand the death toll is 10 to 20 times higher. If that is the case it would be reasonable to assume that there are other factors at play than just bad driving.
Driving and road safety are not the same thing.
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Old Mar 1st, 2018, 07:48 AM
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I wil have to defer to you here and I have little experience on Thai roads. When we were there in 2013 I lost my phone so the hotel arranged for me to get a scooter taxi to go to stores to get a new one and to get it charged, get a SIM, etc. Quite process really. I do recall the driver being in between lanes, zipping in and out. I was quite happy to be done without any injuries.

Now India is different. Having been there 7 times I can say the traffic and driving is not what i am used to to put it mildly. I considered renting a car during our first trip there until I saw how intersections were entered. Get on the horn and step on the gas. No thanks and if you are pedestrian good luck.
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Old Mar 3rd, 2018, 08:56 PM
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It seems to me that most of what you read about driving inThailand is actually a reflection of the habits and abilities of the poster rather than a true appreciation of road safety in the country.
An example might be the reaction many have to what they perceive as "bad driving" and how they see this as a direct explanation of the exorbitant death rates.
For instance, a foreigner confronted with a motorcycle coming towards them next to the nearside curb will be pointed out and then followed up with several vitriolic comments that are largely racial stereotypes about the inferiority of Thai people and their driving ... presumably compared to themselves and their own (self-assessed) "superor" driving.
On the other hand a Thai driver will pass without comment.....partly because they expect this and and act accordingly and also because they don't get worked up about this sort of thing, which in itself suggests they are driving more safely.
I would suggest that most casual observers and the lamentably uninformed Thai authorities spend too much time concentrating on and drivers and driving and making stereotypical assumptions when in reality they should be considering the holistic aspects of road safety in the Kingdom.
The result of all this is doubtful conclusions and poor advice fuelled by lack of any real understanding and confirmation bias. In these prevailing conditions progress will be slow
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 01:18 AM
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Looking at that list of worst countries for driving, Thailand is listed as one of the worst. What caught my eye is that neighbouring Cambodia was in the second best category of four.

After having done some driving in Thailand and going around Cambodia by car (and thankfully not driving), something seems off about those stats. Agreed that anecdotes don't make data, but sometimes, accumulated data isn't collected in similar ways by different systems, can be far from reality due to all sorts of reasons and even then, as it's assembled, may not be particularly well thought out and filtered either.

In that list, they're literally averaging in people who aren't even involved in the activity of driving.

I know a week or so of driving around northern Thailand isn't representative of everything someone could encounter. (and more importantly, it lacks experience of what happens to a foreign driver IF they should be in an accident). However stats are almost as misrepresentative, if the majority of what they reflect comes from Bangkok and because almost everyone has a vehicle, then everyone there is affected. While the question may really be what is it like to drive around Chiang Rai. Those stats don't really even apply in that case any more than someone noting they never saw an incident of reckless behaviour during their time driving. (more than I can say about any given week in some US cities I've lived in in)
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 06:23 AM
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" if the majority of what they reflect comes from Bangkok " - no they don't.
I agree that the gathering of stats is incredibly unreliable in Thailand and many other countries. The Stats used are from the WHO - who have a paper explaining how they analyze and interpret the stats they get hold of an attempt to make comparative world stats.


Bangkok is interesting as it has the highest number of collisions and used to account for (allegedly) a huge proportion of the death toll - now it is said to be quite the opposite.

As they don't properly compile stats in Thailand, trying to identify the difference between regions is pretty impossible.
The only time of year that they seem to collect anything like a full range of stats is over the 2 holiday periods - New Year and Song Khran.
Here they release figures before it is possible to ascertain road deaths - as they include those who die up to 30 days after an accident., but they do give the number of collisions - this can be used to compare with other countries with full sets of stats - even if it is only a snapshot.


Another noticeable feature of road crashes over holiday periods both in Thailand and worldwide is that they usually represent a DROP in the daily death rate - although this year may not be the case for Thailand.

I never rely on personations to make a conclusion about what is happening - it certainly awakens my interest in road safety issues and makes me want to find out more so as to put in perspective what I think I might be seeing.

When it comes to personal experience, I can safely say that not only have I driven further than most tourists or expats in Thailand, I have driven for a longer time and further than most Thai drivers. However my conclusions oaout driving most certainly don't come from that - I've found that confirmation bias and nape-of-the-neck judgments can lead to very misleading conclusions.drivers.lobs
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 07:33 AM
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"I can safely say that not only have I driven further than most tourists or expats in Thailand, I have driven for a longer time and further than most Thai drivers."

Intersting! You seem very keen on disputing the data and opinions put forward by others, so what data can you provide to support this assertion?
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 11:57 AM
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I'm not sure what the implication of your post is as I said...
" my conclusions about driving most certainly don't come from that".
However, the statement is based on the odometer readings of the vehicles I've owned in the last 20 years in Thailand.
I'm not sure that I'm actually disputing data put forward by others at all.....there isn't a lot being put forward by others. I do criticise how data is gathered and the way it is interpreted or the conclusions drawn.
I think it is fair to say that opinions need to be formed from reason and logic which as suggested in the OP, I agree is not always the case with road safety with perception overruling reality.

Last edited by khunwilko; Mar 4th, 2018 at 12:12 PM.
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 03:04 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...ted_death_rate
This data shows Thailand to be 2nd highest in road fatalities per 100k inhabitants.

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/...accidents.html
This data show Thailand with the exact same figures but has it as # 1 and Libya which was #1 above is not on this list at all.

Top 10 countries with deadliest roads for travelers | Fox News
This list has Thailand as #2 in terms of fatalities per 100K inhabitants.



Life and death on Thailand's lethal roads - BBC News
This list has Thailand #2 and Libya #1.

So khunwilko where else have you driven to compare with driving inThailand? I must say I am puzzled by how these figures can be interpreted in such a way as to conclude driving is as safe in Thailand as it is in say Norway or other countries with much lower fatality rates per 100k inhabitants.
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 03:43 PM
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The word "inhabitants" is somewhat problematic here in determining risk.

Inhabitants are only at risk of a driving accident if they drive. Therefore, the rate per inhabitant isn't indicative of anything. A low rate could just mean that lots of people don't drive there while leaving us to guess how bad the ones who DO drive really are. I It should be noted if different areas pose significantly different risks as well.

Which is not to say that drivers in Thailand are as well trained and have as safe a system of laws and infrastructure as Norway. I doubt anyone would think that to be the case. But if they, as a driving public, are listed as much more of a risk, than driving in Vietnam or Cambodia? Might that signify a questionable take away from the statistics or of the usefulness the statistics themselves?

I've certainly seen risks being taken in any of these countries that would appall the driving public of Western Europe, no doubt. But does that mean I'm likely to be in an accident on a country road in, say, Northern Thailand? Not really. Not if traffic is sparse and I don't have to interact with many other drivers (which IS the case in many areas up there). Chances are, even if what drivers there are in a rural area ARE very bad drivers, they will be much more likely to be in a single vehicle accident (falling off a motor bike, for instance) than in an altercation with another vehicle, much less mine.

Last edited by CounterClifton; Mar 4th, 2018 at 03:46 PM.
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 05:01 PM
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I interpret the “per inhabitant” criteria as per population so it then can equivocate to different total population numbers regardless of those w/i that population who drive so it can be applied no matter the population amount. It’s simply a ratio. To me the numbers speak for themselves.

What causes the deaths? That’s the bigger issue to me. Distance to trauma centers, the number of trauma centers, availability of first responders, training? Minutes count.Then what about drivers education, licensing standards.

In 2013 my wife was hospitalized in Bangkok at Samitivej for a horrid gi bug she picked up while we were in India. I must say the care was excellent and I speak from a 35 yr. experience as an RN in critical care at a Chicago teaching hospital. I don’t know nearly enough about health care over all in Thailand but at Samitivej it was spot on.

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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 10:29 PM
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OK, I shall attempt to make it simple for you. My "implication",considered opinion, would be a better use of words) is that you have used a spurious fact that is clearly unsupportable, so why mention it in the first place.

You state quite unequivocally that "

"I can safely say that not only have I driven further than most tourists or expats in Thailand, I have driven for a longer time and further than most Thai drivers."

If your conclusions are not based on that statement then why make it?

Reading your own odometer proves only how many miles your car has been driven. Unless you have checked the odometer records of a huge sample of Thai drivers, the comparison is meaningless.
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Old Mar 4th, 2018, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
OK, I shall attempt to make it simple for you. My "implication",considered opinion, would be a better use of words) is that you have used a spurious fact that is clearly unsupportable, so why mention it in the first place.

You state quite unequivocally that "

"I can safely say that not only have I driven further than most tourists or expats in Thailand, I have driven for a longer time and further than most Thai drivers."

If your conclusions are not based on that statement then why make it?

Reading your own odometer proves only how many miles your car has been driven. Unless you have checked the odometer records of a huge sample of Thai drivers, the comparison is meaningless.
I repeat
"I can safely say that not only have I driven further than most tourists or expats in Thailand, I have driven for a longer time and further than most Thai drivers."

"If your conclusions are not based on that statement then why make it?" - I was replying to other posters who seem to think that driving and road safety are one and the same.
Until you made that comment, I would have suggested the discussion was quite civilized and rational

I have to say that in my experience on forums like these, those who obsess with citations and references out of context reveal more about themselves than anything else - it seems that bereft of a point to make they think that making accusations is actually an argument.

my interest in road safety comes partly from the extensive driving I've done both in Thailand and around the world and from my employment is a traffic engineers' office.

Last edited by khunwilko; Mar 4th, 2018 at 11:14 PM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 02:53 AM
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So basically, you are unable to support your claim.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 03:25 AM
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We are largely going over stuff already covered.

So for a start, let us point out that road safety is not just a Thai problem, like Malaria and AIDS, it is a worldwide health problem and just because some countries have lower headline stats doesn’t mean they can be smug - in fact the general public is remarkably uniformed about road safety issues and has little idea how much the governments of their respective countries does on their behalf - they just assume it’s because they are “superb drivers”

“3 400 people die on the world's roads every day and tens of millions of people are injured or disabled every year. Children, pedestrians, cyclists and older people are among the most vulnerable of road users.

Road crashes cost low- and middle-income countries an estimated US $ 65 Billion each year - more than they receive in development aid.

It has been mooted that the more you drive the more you understand road safety - I’d suggest that this is by no means guaranteed - and in fact, most drivers simply resort to assumption and anecdote and ingrained habit when considering the topic.

Driving experience is helpful - it can certainly be argued that people learn a lot more after their tests than before.. but for many people, a lifetime of driving just means an ever -reinforced collection of ingrained bad driving habits and ill-thought out opinions.

People don’t regard driving as an intellectual experience and seldom undertake any serious study or research to try and fathom what is really going on around them.

They are satisfied they are superb drivers and the rest of the world is beneath them and mad.

To quote the OP....
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?”
..and...

Individuals do not believe they are dangerous on the roads but at the same time fervently believe others are.

I am not likely to be responsible for an accident; others are likely to be responsible. Therefore little I can do.

Hence, less likely to need to “plan to avoid them”

Campaigns aimed at dangerous driving are for “other” drivers not themselves.

Such campaigns re-emphasise this difference (2CV, 2008 and Flaming Research, 2008)

The third-person effect (Davison, 1983).

High support for enforcement, engineering solutions and education

But not for themselves - for other people.”


These people rely on personal observation and anecdote. The same thinking that lead many to believe the earth was flat. Seriously the plural of anecdote is NEVER data - it really isn’t.

As you drive around Thailand think about confirmation bias and how you are succumbing to it.

For instance, if someone tells you all Fortuner drivers are rude and reckless than notice how many of them you see. In fact, the reality is shown that once you implant a suggestion like that instances that confirm this notion are remembered and cherished whereas other vehicles are not noted so well and fade from our observation memory.

Another random example is those who are convinced they’ve seen more accidents in Thailand than at home - yet fail to seriously question why.

(UK and Thailand actually appear to have roughly the same number of collisions)

It is a persistent problem that people are looking at this in terms of “association” rather than “causation”

Perception rather than reality......

One will always get a distorted picture by concentrating on driving, not the 5 Es

Jacketwatch - No-one anywhere on this thread has suggested that Thailand compares with Norway - in fact, this is a fine example of how stats are misinterpreted.

Norway has 3 times the amount of road space per car of Thailand.

Population density; Norway has about 1/10 that of Thailand.

But about UK?? Crowded roads etc etc..... - When death rates are compared to UK Norway - with lovely quiet roads where you can drive all day and hardly see another car - comes behind UK death rates- on 100k population, 100k vehicles and Vehicle kilometers.

Arising from this, there is also the assumption that “sparse” roads are safer than “dense traffic - when in fact BKK now has one of the lowest death rates in Thailand.

Jacketwatch - As for your citations - they are ALL using the same single WHO stat and putting their own interpretation on them with varying results.

Other stats presented by the WHO.....

Deaths per 100k vehicles
Road fatalities per 1 billion vehicle/km (VKT)
Numbers of vehicles owned
Average miles travelled per capita
Total deaths in a country

Thailand is nowhere near number one in fatalities per 100k vehicles for instance - it is down in the mid-range.

The WHO doesn’t actually use the word “dangerous" here they refer to the roads as “deadly”

You will also notice that the WHO nowhere refers simplistically to “bad drivers”

When it comes to driving experience, distance etc, it is not the distance you have driven so much as the quality of observations you make and subsequent research that makes all the difference.

(as a side note - please don’t confuse a quick Google with quality research - “search” and “research” are not the same)

but one of the crucial things about that single ever-repeated statistic is that 80% of those deaths are “vulnerable road users”

for those who aren’t familiar with the term..

VULNERABLE ROAD USERS....
are vendors walking along the side of a road taking goods to markets, cyclists, people on the back of a bus trying to get to work or children walking to school, motorcyclists and sidecars, “sky-lab” and other slow-moving traffic - Children, pedestrians, cyclists and the elderly are among the most vulnerable of road users.”

...and in Thailand 70% or more of these are motorcyclists. (In the EU the deaths of motorcyclists are around 15%).

DRIVERS - If you are “driving” a 4 wheeled vehicle you represent 6% of road deaths and if you are a passenger, 7%.

*****

“Inhabitants? - not my choice of word - the figures for death rates are by 100k of “population”.

Inhabitants are only at risk of a driving accident if they drive.”

Absolutely not!

The statistics are all about road users - you certainly don’t have to drive - you can be any one of the road users described above or a passenger in any one of the vehicles or as is the case for the majority a rider or passenger on a motorbike.

Again this is perception overriding the reality - most people see Thailand in terms of driving a car (maybe a motorcycle) but if you are in a car you are relatively as safe as in the USA. (not a huge compliment, I might add, but it puts driving into perspective.

“What causes deaths” - well that is the $64000 question.

The 5 Es will PREVENT deaths, but if you just accept that the number of collisions in UK and Thailand are the same, then it has to be something other than “bad driving’ that is the cause.

I think it is what happens AFTER the car has lost control or direction, that is the crucial part.

I have a suspicion and unfortunately, Thailand either doesn’t collect or publicise the figures, that one of the main sources of death - as opposed to injury -= is the Thai medical industry and in particular their emergency services which are just appalling.

The other 5 Es all contribute in their own way as they exacerbate any collision with their successive failings.

One of Thailand’s statistical failings is they don’t yet collate statistics to international norms and standards - they don’t give crash figures as fatal, serious injury and minor injury - this is done by all countries in Europe and North America as well as many others around the world.

Training of drivers is obviously useful but when you look back on the tests that existed in the West 40 to 50 years ago, it has to be said that many drivers took a test that makes the current Thai test look like a Ph.D. in motoring. I’d hate to think the last thing I learned about motoring and road safety was the day before my bike and car driving tests at 16 and 17 years of age. ( I was 7 when I got my first motorbike, at 16 I was driving a 650cc BSA)

If you look at the really successful countries on road safety, it is continual government advice and well-considered public campaigns that seem to have most effect - especially as the driving environment changes from year to year.

The current threat - and it seems to actually be reversing the progress in some countries is the use of mobile phones and related devices......this is very serious and is not fully addressed even in countries like UK, Norway and Germany.

Vietnam and Cambodia...and other neighboring countries; Thailand is radically different from these in the makeup of roads composition of traffic and car ownership. For instance, car ownership in V/N was one-tenth of that in Thailand - this is about to change with the ending of import duties and we may see a concomitant rise is road death rates.

I've certainly seen risks being taken in any of these countries that would appall the driving public of Western Europe,

Again this is of course perception and confirmation bias. Te fact that driving here doesn’t emulate the rules laid down in Europe or elsewhere, doesn’t automatically follow that they are an unacceptable risk. The truth is that anyone driving in Thailand will realize in a very short time that this is the norm - and although it may increase the possibility of injury it is an expected and anticipated feature amongst Thai drivers - so it is foreigners who may find themselves at risk if anyone does.
*****


BTW - have you followed up on the boat theory of driving? - it really works and is helpful in understanding how people are likely to drive on Thai roads. I think the first time I came across it was it the book “Very Thai” - a cultural analysis of Thai “street” life

Last edited by khunwilko; Mar 5th, 2018 at 03:37 AM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 05:15 AM
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My point Khunwilko was that the ratios given account for differences in population. Thats why you can at the very least use this as a barometer to measure differences.

Please share your data for road space differences. I would like to see that as well.

Yes three of the sources cited were from the WHO and the other was from "world Atlas" Is WA part of the WHO? Are there other sites which note other figures and is the WHO somehow so flawed as to discount their data?

I do recall traffic in HCMC as being packed with a lot of motor bikes. Out Viet tour guide said death on the roads there are quite high. I do agree that as I am used to driving in the US it would be very hard to learn how to drive in Thailand, VM, India and probably many more countries as well. In all fairness you did say "the truth is that anyone driving in Thailand will realize in a very short time that this is the norm - and although it may increase the possibility of injury it is an expected and anticipated feature amongst Thai drivers - so it is foreigners who may find themselves at risk if anyone does. " Its the part about "increase the possibility of injury" that makes me think riskier driving is the norm but with risk comes consequences. Believe I am not trying to pick on Thai drivers or anything else Thai for that matter. We have problems here too. Gun control being the most pressing now bu that is another issue.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Mar 5th, 2018 at 05:32 AM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by jacketwatch View Post
My point Khunwilko was that the ratios given account for differences in population. Thats why you can at the very least use this as a barometer to measure differences.

Please share your data for road space differences. I would like to see that as well.

Yes three of the sources cited were from the WHO and the other was from "world Atlas" Is WA part of the WHO? Are there other sites which note other figures and is the WHO somehow so flawed as to discount their data?

I do recall traffic in HCMC as being packed with a lot of motorbikes. Out Viet tour guide said death on the roads there are quite high. I do agree that as I am used to driving in the US it would be very hard to learn how to drive in Thailand, VM, India, and probably many more countries as well. In all fairness you did say "the truth is that anyone driving in Thailand will realize in a very short time that this is the norm - and although it may increase the possibility of injury it is an expected and anticipated feature amongst Thai drivers - so it is foreigners who may find themselves at risk if anyone does. " Its the part about "increase the possibility of injury" that makes me think riskier driving is the norm but with risk comes consequences. Believe I am not trying to pick on Thai drivers or anything else Thai for that matter. We have problems here too. Gun control being the most pressing now bu that is another issue.


"the ratios given account for differences in population" - you need to explain that - the rates are for 100k in population what "differences" do they account for?

If you look at the small print on world atlas, you'll see it is WHO stats.
I don't usually share data on forums - you can take it or leave it. - It's easy enough to work out road space - just get the miles of road and the number of vehicles.
I think if you are going to come to a discussion on a forum, you need to get informed about the topic beforehand. there is a massive amount of stuff out there on road safety and it takes months or years to sift through it all, but a few intelligent searches can bring quick rewards.
Most people can find this stuff if they Google - I don't actually do so much of that as I already have the figures either in my head or on my computer.
All data is suspect - but if WHO is one of the ones that present a reasonably accurate picture. Their main document came out in 2015 - there have been various updates and of course other less stringent gatherings from various orgs. in and around Thailand. they also have documents explaining how their data is collated.
I have driven in the States (and Canada) a few years ago. Statistically, though, there are problems which is why their road deaths and accompanying stats put them about 4 or 5 times more deadly than western European countries.
I think one of the problems that drivers have is just getting into a rut driving in one system - they think they are great drivers but when confronted with another system they are pretty much unable to adapt. So in self-defense, they turn around and deprecate the coiuntry they are in especially the drivers. In fact, you can identify the cliches they use quite easily - terms about fast driving actually imply they can't cope with a sensation input overload on these new roads. Strange maneuvers that are common in the new country are determined to be "stupid" or "dangerous" when everyone else realizes they are normal for that country.
given that in a 4 wheel vehicle as a driver you are only 6% of the fatalities, I would consider that driving in Thailand is way less "risky" than many other countries - as in the OP it is a case of perception over reality.
It also requires a true knowledge of road safety and one's own driving abilities and also an appreciation of the TRUE causes of deaths, and injuries on the roads you are driving.

Successive governments in Thailand have prioritized the automobile - firstly the pickup and then the small sedan.
This has lead to a protected industry that has become amongst the top ten in size in the world.
It also led to an automobile culture that is in advance of all its neighbors - Malaysia and Indonesia are in hot pursuit, but they have concentrated more on infrastructure.
Road transport has been the sole concern at the expense of other public transports - e.g. rail or even national bus routes.
All pretty much unregulated without any consideration for road safety the road system has grown up fast and dangerous - road design and construction are lamentable compared to the West and even Malaysia. roads are too straight, too wide poorly fitted and signed and too fast - speed kills. It is also this deadly mix of the old and new that seems to be so toxic.....highspeed cars and pickups mingle with motorbikes, hand carts and livestock to devastating effect.
Basically, if you want to know what is going wrong with Thai roads, don't blame drivers or driving, blame the 5Es - successive governments have failed to implement these interconnected measures and until they implement them ALL there can be no significant change.
however, if you are in a 4 wheeled car and a competent driver, you should be as fine as you are in the States.
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Old Mar 5th, 2018, 09:22 AM
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It means that for every 100 k in population no matter what the country there are in x number of fatalities, x being the number listed.

So for example for every 100k inhabitants of Thailand there are 36.2 vehicular fatalities per yr. In Switzerland there are 3.3 vehicular fatalities per yr. per 100k population.

Last edited by jacketwatch; Mar 5th, 2018 at 10:19 AM.
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