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The risk you’re taking when you hire a scooter in Southeast Asia

Young, carefree Aussie heads over to Thailand or Bali for a tropical holiday. They soak up the sun, hit the surf, sip on cocktails, buy a Bintang singlet and hire a scooter to get around. It is a rite of passage that many young Australians enjoy. Until it kills them, News Australia reported.

Picture source: ntnews.com.au

This week, we learnt the tragic news of Sophia Martini’s death. The “fun and always smiling” 27-year-old was killed when she fell off the back of a scooter driven by her boyfriend on Monday morning (local time).

It is a tragedy that we have become far too acquainted with. Ms Martini is the fourth Australian to die in a motorbike crash in Bali since April 2016.

And that’s just in Bali.

Road accidents are the leading cause of tourist deaths in Thailand and a growing concern for Thai authorities, especially in the holiday hot spots of Koh Samui, Phuket and Pattaya.

The United Nations even ranks Thailand’s roads as the second most deadly in the world, where Australians are 6.5 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than at home.

We wouldn’t ride a motorbike without a proper license and experience in Australia, where we have higher road safety standards and tougher road rules. But we will in Southeast Asia. This is a pain Sydney woman Kate Fitzsimons knows all too well. She lost her older sister, Nicole, to a motorbike accident in Thailand in 2012. She was just 24-years-old. Ms Fitzsimons has since dedicated her life to educating other young Aussies about the consequences of making that “split second” decision through her foundation, The Nicole Fitzsimons Foundation. She travels to high schools to teach students the importance of travel safety.

“My sister took a risk that she would never take here in Australia, and it something a lot of us do when we travel overseas,” Ms Fitzsimons told news.com.au.

“It is naivety, we assume nothing bad will happen on a holiday and nine times out of ten they are the best memories of our life so we don’t even want to comprehend the worst-case scenario. You never think that will happen to you on holiday.

“But it’s that invincibility factor which is what actually motivated me to set up the foundation because Nicole wasn’t a risk-taker in any way shape or form. Everything relaxes on holidays and unfortunately that means our safety standards too. We tend to push those boundaries and take those risks we wouldn’t normally take here but the concrete is just as hard overseas as it is here in Australia. It literally only takes a split second for lives to change forever.”

Even when you think you are being cautious — wearing a helmet, obtaining a license and obeying the traffic rules — it is still a risk.

Phil Sylvester from Travel Insurance Direct said they still get many claims involving motorbike or scooter accidents in Southeast Asia from people who have tried to follow the rules.

“A lot of the helmets in Bali or Thailand are novelty helmets. They do not live up to the safety standards that you come to expect for helmets in Australia. It is hard to choose a helmet in line with Australian safety standards,” he told news.com.au.

“And I know it is difficult when you’re on holiday and you’re zipping to the beach and back but a Bintang singlet, shorts and thongs are not safety equipment. You are going to get injured even if it is a minor traffic accident.

“It is also difficult because the road rules, the road conditions and road surface are very different from what we experience at home. And lots of people who hire motorbikes overseas, even though they may get a licence, are not experienced with riding a motorbike.”

Travel insurance will cover traffic accidents in Southeast Asia but you have to be licensed, have been wearing a helmet, not be under the influence and not have broken a traffic rule. The latter can be very difficult in a country that has ambiguous road safety laws, making the risk of getting on a motorbike or scooter even greater.

Read full article, here

Source: news.com.au / Julia Corderoy

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