Ride at a safe speed! The locals drive slowly, and assume others do too. If you travel at twice their speed it will get dangerous.
Three Thai Driving Conventions:
Motorcycles, taking less space, being quicker and more manoeuverable than other vehicles, have a big advantage where rules number one and two are concerned, but they often loose out badly with rule number three. So, always allow yourself plenty of room and time to manoeuvre should a accident situation suddenly arise. Remember, with the correct gear, speed and position you should not have an accident.
Traffic Lights Jumping the lights & running the red light is a bit of a national sport. So take extra care at traffic lights. (1) Look before you take off from the lights – don’t be the first one away. (2) If you’re making a quick stop for the lights changing to red, look in your mirror to make sure the vehicle behind is also stopping & not going to run you over.
Oncoming Vehicles Overtaking dangerously can be a problem on narrow roads or in traffic on straight sections of road. This is most irritating, especially when the other vehicle only needs to wait one or two hundred metres until you have gone passed after which they could complete a safe overtaking manoeuvre. But unfortunately rule number three (the bigger the vehicle) rules the roost here.
Note that in practice the vehicle charging out will often flash his headlights on and off several times to give a warning that he is coming through and everyone else had better get out of the way. But never fear (totally), this warning can work to your advantage. If you see a line of oncoming vehicles coming towards you and are concerned that one of them might try a kamikaze overtaking manoeuvre forcing you off the road, you could try riding past with your headlights flashing on and off. This has the effect of serving notice that you are there on the road and intend to hold your position. More often than not (99% of the time) it works, and other vehicles will not come out dangerously.
Trail Riding Keep to the left, the same as on normal roads. Head-on collisions can happen on the narrow winding dirt roads in the mountains. These roads are not always deserted and you never know what is coming around the next corner – an elephant, a buffalo, or a group of hill tribe people carrying bamboo and walking down the road, so keep to the left. Riding with a full-face helmet on, you might not be able to hear another vehicle coming; so don’t get careless and forget that someone else might coming. We know of a couple of messy incidents between motorcyclists in remote areas that should not have happened.
THE SMOOTH RIDER
Is the easiest person to ride with. He: 1. Paces Himself evenly, rolling on & off the throttle & avoids heavy braking as much as possible.
2. Adjusts His Speed to his immediate riding environment. He does not accelerate or brake hard suddenly.
3. Judges Corners Beforehand & doesn’t go through them under brakes. As he approaches a corner, he rolls off the throttle, touches the brakes a little (if necessary), & then rolls on the throttle to put the power back on smoothly & go through the corner with the power on. This keeps the weight off the front wheel, allowing the most control of his machine.
4. Enters left-handers from the right side, & right-handers from the left side, looking to see clearly around the corner, to plan his exit line and where he’ll end up. The exit line should preferably be close to the centre line.
4. Doesn’t Hang Out over the centre line to get his head knocked off by an oncoming vehicle.
5. Overtakes Carefully he does not come up on other vehicles suddenly, but rolls off the throttle as he approaches. As he catches up to a vehicle in front he flashes his lights on & off a couple of times to be sure that the driver in front is aware that he is behind & preparing to overtake. In traffic he studies the general flow & checks for any other vehicles that might want to make an overtaking maneuver before he does.
Before he starts his overtaking maneuver he makes sure that the way ahead is clear & that there is enough space for him to pull-back-in comfortably. He allows sufficient space for any oncoming vehicles, so as not to force them off their line of travel.
Ride Smoothly & Earn The Respect Of Your Fellow Riders