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What if I have a traffic accident in Phuket?

Phuket Transport | Correct behavior after an accident on Phuket Island

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, do try to remain calm. Arguing with the other driver can make things worse and any pushing and shoving will result in police fines. In stark contrast to the actual driving style of many Phuket drivers which can be quite fast and aggressive the scene after an accident is actually calm and relaxed.

Minor Vehicle Accidents (Fender Benders, bumps and scrapes)

If none of the people involved are seriously injured then the course of events will follow like so: Do not move any of vehicles involved. All vehicles should be left exactly where they are unless they are causing a major traffic hazard. Even then I would recommend waiting for a police man or / insurance company official to give the ok. Doing so beforehand could cause problems with insurance claims.

  • Call or get someone to call for an ambulance (if necessary)
  • Call 191 for the police or preferably contact the tourist police on 1155 for English-speaking assistance.
  • If you have rented the vehicle it's a good idea to call the owner as they will have all the documents needed.
  • Ask the other drivers involved for all their details: ID card, driver's licence, vehicle registration book (Lem Tabian) and insurance papers, and take down the vehicle's registration number.

Note: It is very important to check and understand an insurance company's procedures in the case of an accident such as who to call and how to proceed. Find this out when taking out the insurance.

Usually, an incident report will need to be completed at the local police station. However it is very common in Phuket for a quick solution involving financial compensation when involved in an accident.

In addition to these basic steps, it is strongly recommended you take photographs of the accident and be sure to have shots of damaged areas of the vehicles as well as photos providing an overview of the accident (from different angles) so you not only have records of the actual damage but you can also see the positions of the vehicles on the road.

In many cases where accident is minor the police may assist in organising a settlement between the parties involved. This is different to the western culture where the person who caused the accident is the one who pays. Blame doesn't really come into the equation (it's that old "saving face" thing) and so the police will focus on negotiating an amicable agreement regarding compensation.

If a motorbike hits a car (even if it's not the car drives fault), the car driver will often make a payment to the driver of the motorbike. This is based on the following assumptions:

  • The driver of the car has insurance but the driver of the motorbike probably does not.
  • The driver of the car is probably uninjured but the driver of the bike (even in a very minor accident) probably has a few bumps and scrapes at least.
  • The car will usually have less damage than the bike.
  • The driver of the car has more money than the driver of the motorbike.

As a foreigner, if you are involved in an accident you are subject to another assumption. This is that all foreigners have lots of money and therefore more able to pay compensation to the other parties involved (regardless of who caused the accident).

Unfortunately this system does seem to work against foreigners (farang), but it's important to remember that it's not deliberate persecution or exploitation of the visitors it is simply seen as the most amicable way to ensure all parties involved can continue on with their lives with as little disruption as possible.

Last Updated: 18 Oct 2011

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