Car Crash In Thailand, My Story So Far
So the question is. How far should Thai law be allowed to deviate from the rest of the world when it comes to general road safety?
It's a case of the odds finally catching up with me. I've been driving in Thailand for nearly a decade now. Virtually every day of those ten years spent on the road has given me near death experiences – either directly between myself and other vehicles or as a witness to the stupidity / recklessness of Thai drivers. Indeed, the wife and I were shopping alongside the street when a couple of Harley hogs were cruising at about 30 km on the other side of the road – which was a dual carriage way (four laned highway – two on each side of the road) the road was empty both way in front of the bikes and behind except for an old bloke on a beat up Honda. The Honda overtook one of the Harley's and with all that space around him still managed to clip the Harley causing the guy to try to us his feet to stable the fishtailing of his bike. Bloody incredible!
Back to me, I've posted on threads and dropped some detail already and the case came up in Stickman's weekly column a fortnight ago. It's now time to tell the story…
I was coming back home on King's Birthday at around 20:30. I live on the coast road and being a holiday it was pretty busy with Thais. I made a turn which I must have made a thousand times and crossed the road to enter my drive. The coast was clear and the manoeuvre was pretty basic. However, when entering my drive, I do have to look right to make sure I don't hit a tree stump (we'd asked a local security guard to cut down one of our two trees – of course he chose the wrong one!). As I need to do this when my front end is already off the road and on the grass of my drive I don't feel it to be an issue – if anything is speeding (and it is a race track for teens on motorbikes in the evenings) they can either slow down or continue by driving behind me. Not this time!
What was bearing down on me turned out to be a couple of young teens (13 and 14) on a small Honda motorcycle and without a driving license. Instead of either slowing down and allowing me to enter my drive or just weaving behind my pick up and continuing on with their lives they chose to play Russian Roulette. Yes! They drove up onto the grass and in front of my pickup as I was entering my drive! Guess what! All their little Buddha medallions and visits to the temple didn't stop my one ton pick-up! One ended up in hospital with a broken leg and wrist. The other escaped without injuries but his bike was totally reshaped as was the front end of my pick up!
So where does that leave me? I have a valid Thai license and paid up minimum insurance to cover the cost of hopsitalisation to the tune of 15,000 baht! Arrh, but this is Thailand so you just know there is a huge saga in the offing here and as you may have gathered from my posting style, I do relish a good yarn.
I'm off to teach the staff at my local gym (did a deal 20 hours of ESL for a year's free membership). However, when I return I will begin to unveil the details with twists and turns worthy of Bangkok 8.
Suffice to say, when it comes down to it, many Thais when given the chance aren't Buddhists at all they are just blatant cheats and extortionists.
So the upshot of it all at this point:
The body snatchers were pretty quick off the mark and on the scene within minutes followed by the police. I took a couple of pics as the cops didn't seem to bother. This way I could prove that I was off the road and on the grass of my drive-way when the accident happened. The cops took my keys and drove off in my pick-up while my wife and I set off to the local police station. After an initial statement we returned and got on with our life waiting to be summoned.
A week later, we made moves on trying to get my pick-up back. We got the run around as I suspect the cop in charge wanted to hold it to ransom so that we would be forced to pay whatever demands came our way (was he on commission?)
Today we finally had a sit down with the parents. The cop having told a friend of ours who is a senior public prosecutor (and one of my students) that it was 50/50 changed his mind and decided it was my fault. We took a third party with us to act as an interpreter and she was shown pics of the damage to bike and car but not at the scene of the crime. She pointed out that this was unfair to our side as the kids had driven off the road to drive in front of me. He replied that we had no witnesses to this which is when I threw down to pics taken on my camera of the accident scene verifying this to be true.
At this point it was explained that we had two options – negotiate with the parents for a settlement or see the beak. The parents issued their demands for 100,000 baht for one child and 80,000 baht for another plus 20,000 baht to repair the bike!
Guess what! We're taking it to the beak! They are trying a shake down and it's up to us to stand up for farangs who find themselves in this position.
So the question is. How far should Thai law be allowed to deviate from the rest of the world when it comes to general road safety? They believe that young kids riding illegally on motorbikes and the accidents that result from this are two separate issues. They fail to recognise cause and effect. To what degree should the rest of the world allow this to occur and risk our lives because the Thais fail to understand the logical connections between the two issues?
This is a quite disgraceful affair. That the finger has been pointed at you is just totally wrong. That they held your pick up truck for so long is wrong. And that they are now trying to extort money from you is appalling.
I hate to say it but in a case like this it pays to get a good lawyer. Not always easy to find and it is going to cost.
Being frank, it is situations like this that really put me off staying in Thailand. One day it is going to happen to me…