Bali police have issued a warning to tourists riding motorbikes on the holiday island — obey the road rules or face criminal charges. Anyone who tries to bribe an officer to get away with bad behaviour will also be charged.
The stark warning, from Bali’s Police Chief, Insp General Petrus Golose, comes in the wake of the latest fatal motorbike accident, which killed young Australian woman Sophia Martini.
Martini died in the early hours of Monday morning, las September when the bike, driven by her boyfriend Steele Nugent, ran out of control and hit a parking sign near Kuta.
Adding to the dreadful loss, police said she was due to marry Mr Nugent. Her mother has begged Indonesian police not to charge Mr Nugent and a decision, under alternative dispute regulations, is still pending. News Corporation understands he will most likely not be charged.
It was the fourth fatal motorbike accident in Bali in the past year involving Australians — the fourth time a family member at home has received the dreadful phone call that a body will be returning from holiday in a coffin.
Insp Gen Golose yesterday told News Corporation that foreigners come to Bali and behave differently than they would at home.
“Foreign nationals, although they are orderly in their country, when they arrive here, they show different behaviour. This is a learning process for all of us in Bali,” he said.
“Tourists in Bali should follow the rules. I see that many tourists do not follow the rule. It’s even worse than locals. Many locals wear helmets but tourists don’t. As this is a tourism area, we are better to appeal to them. But if they don’t … we will punish them.”
In April this year Sydney woman, 26-year- old Ella Knights was found lying in a ditch near her motorbike in Canggu in the early hours of the morning. Her helmet was nearby and police believe it may not have been properly fastened.
The previous April, 16-year- old Orange High School student, Lochie Connaughton, on holiday with his family, died after crashing into a concrete wall in the parking garage of the hotel. And just a month later Victorian firefighter, Adrian Newton, was killed after colliding with a garbage truck as it did a U-turn in front of him.
Bali Traffic Police chief, Sr. Cmr. Anak Agung Made Sudana is only too familiar with the cases and wishes he wasn’t.
He says that most of the foreigners who die in motorbike accidents in Bali do so because they are riding drunk, out of control or without helmets.
There are no roadside alcohol breath tests in Bali. There are no speed cameras. And too often, foreigners stopped for not wearing a helmet, which is an offence, pay an on-the-spot fine, generally a bribe, to ride away and keep going sans helmet.
Sr Cmr Sudana says that it comes down to their own conscience and awareness.
“There are many foreigners that never ride motorbikes in their country but they do it here. Most foreigners who get into traffic accidents do so because they were drunk. Many of them were out of control,” he says of the majority of accidents his officers deal with.
“In many case of traffic accidents, many of them also are not wearing helmets.
“The (traffic) regulation is very clear. However, it comes back again to their awareness. We have tried very hard to do many things. But, most cases are caused by human error.”
The total number of fatalities for the first six months of this year on Bali’s roads is 240, up eight per cent on the same period last year. And the number of motorbike accidents has increased 11 per cent in the same period.
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Source: news.com.au / Cindy Wockner and Komang Erviani in Bali