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They’re Never Wrong

29/06/2013

They’re Never Wrong.

When a foreigner has a traffic accident in Thailand he or she is invariably perceived to be at fault.

No Thai likes to admit guilt or agree that he is wrong. No Thai wants to lose face.

I laughed when a Bangkok cop told me – not, I hasten to add, in respect of anything I had done – that farangs don’t know how to drive like Thais. Later on, I began to realise what he meant. Westerners and Thais have a different mind-set when it comes to driving a car or riding a motor bike.

Although you see exceptions every day, farangs usually keep to the rules of the road. Red lights get jumped. Speed limits are ignored when you think you won’t be caught. The Thai way of thinking is different. They value freedom and define it as doing what they want to do. It is a sort of anarchic freedom in a democratic framework. The longer you stay in Thailand; the more you begin to understand that strange – to western eyes – concept.

Breaking the law for minor regulatory breaches does not concern the Thai too much. “It does not matter.” The idea of mai bhen rai is cropping up again.

Thais are cautious drivers and assume others will make mistakes on the road. They make allowances. It is the reason why bikers pull out of side-roads without looking. Someone will stop for them. Of course, their logic does not always work. Thailand has a high fatality rate for road accidents.

Westerners assume road users will, more or less, keep to the rules. However, they are generally not defensive drivers. This is what my Bangkok police officer was getting at. I had laughed because I thought it was ironic that he was criticising farangs when the Thais themselves have virtually no training schemes or strict driving tests. You sit and re-sit a Thai driving test until you pass. There is no on the road testing. Motorists drive around a test circuit for less than five minutes, watched (sometimes) by an examiner.

Although many skills are absent and there are high fatality and accident rates, Thais do drive defensively. They do drive differently. And, yes, they won’t admit they are wrong if they have an accident.

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One Comment
  1. Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it.
    Look advanced to far added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we communicate?

    Like

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