Many tourists come to Thailand and rent a car to travel the country. Some of them, unfortunately, do have car accidents and some don’t know what to do when it happens. If you are renting a car in Thailand, or even if you live here and drive, here is what you should do if you ever have a traffic accident.
Get All Personal Information From the Other Driver – If there is another driver involved, get all his/her personal information including address, personal ID number (all Thais should carry an ID card), vehicle registration and car license plate number. There’s also a registration book that the Thai driver should carry in his car and you can get the registration number from this. Don’t be surprised though if the driver has already fled the scene. A lot of people in Thailand run when they have a car accident, leaving their car behind, as they are uninsured, drunk or sometimes both.
Take Photos – If you have a camera with you, before you move your car, make sure you take photographs of the accident scene from every angle. These can be used later for insurance purposes or police reports. A lot of Thais carry cameras, so you can guarantee the other person is probably doing the same thing, so make sure you have yours for your report.
Move Your Car out of the Traffic Flow – If there are no serious injuries and the cars are still able to be driven or pushed, move them out of the traffic. (It’s amazing to me in Thailand how many people don’t do this when they have a car accident, but will block the traffic for a couple of hours just for a fender bender.)
Call the Thai Tourist Police – if you are in Bangkok or any of the typical tourist areas, Thailand has an excellent tourist police force. Call them at 1155, and they will immediately send somebody out to assist you, call an ambulance if necessary and help you to file an accident report at a police station. Don’t forget though, especially in Bangkok, the traffic is horrendous, so it may take them a while to get there. Be patient.
Always Carry a Mobile Phone – Buying a mobile phone in Thailand is as cheap as $25 and you can buy them at any mall or shopping centre (MBK Mall in Bangkok is a fabulous place to buy a cheap
phone). To get it set up to make and receive calls and for the first 100 minutes of call time only costs another $8. If you have a mobile phone and you have a car accident, this could be a life saver. With it, you can call the Thai tourist police and request assistance. You can also call a Thai native speaker if you happen to be involved in an accident where the other person doesn’t speak English.
Have a Thai Native Speaker on Speed Dial – Even if it’s just the receptionist at your hotel, your tour guide or a Thai friend you’ve made along the way, make sure you have somebody to call if you need translation help. If you don’t speak any Thai and are involved in an accident, you might find yourself having a lot more problems. But, if you can call a Thai native speaker, they can help you translate at least until the tourist police arrive. Thais are incredibly helpful people and most of them won’t mind at all being your translator-on-call.
Don’t Pay Any Cash Upfront – A lot of drivers in Thailand will demand cash up front to pay for their damage. Don’t pay this. First of all, if it’s not your fault, why are you paying? Secondly, even if you pay this, the insurance company won’t take this into consideration when they assess culpability and who has to pay who.
Stay Calm – In many countries, car accidents are an excuse to lose all control and start screaming and yelling. You will hardly ever see this in Thailand, as Thais are relaxed and calm even in the face of calamity. Stay relaxed and friendly. It’s just a car accident and, as long as nobody was hurt, not that serious of an issue. While you’re waiting for the police, talk to the person you hit. Even if they speak only rudimentary English, they’ll usually be more than happy to chat.
Call Your Insurance Company – Once the accident has been dealt with by the police, don’t forget to call your insurance company. If you have car insurance in Thailand, you’ll probably find very few people at your insurance company speak English so this is where a Thai friend will come in handy again.
Above all, remember, having a traffic accident in Thailand is not the end of the world. If nobody was seriously injured, at worst it will probably only cost you a couple of hundred dollars and, if you have good car insurance, it may not cost anything. Stay calm and relaxed and just chalk it down to an interesting experience. One you can talk to your friends and family about when you get home from your vacation.