Know the pitfalls when riding overseas
Road conditions and motorists' behaviour can be vastly different
The recent news and gruesome images of traffic fatalities involving Singaporean motorists overseas have been plaguing my mind.
The almost back-to-back accidents claimed the lives of 11 Singaporeans between December 2017 and early January this year in both motorbike and car crashes.
Nobody on a holiday expects anything bad to happen to them. But accidents do occur.
Still, can a biker cheat fate and avoid being a victim?
While there are many reasons behind road accidents, it is not wise for motorists to "leave it to chance" when venturing on unfamiliar overseas roads, Singapore Road Safety Council chairman Bernard Tay told The New Paper.
Being prepared and knowing the risks can increase a motorist's survivability.
"Personally, you have to be aware of these things (risks)," Mr Tay said. "When you drive overseas, the conditions will be different."
Changes in weather can cause road grip levels to worsen when riding in winter, said Ms Juvena Huang, a Singaporean who went on a two-year jaunt in May 2015 on a Vespa scooter.
Do not expect others to adhere to the usual traffic rules and habits in your country.Ms Juvena Huang
Ms Huang, whose blog is called The Wandering Wasp, buzzed her way to India, Iran, Turkey and the Czech Republic over a distance of more than 44,000km.
The 31-year-old told TNP: "Do not expect others to adhere to the usual traffic rules and habits in your country. Expecting others to follow 'rules' makes the riding experience frustrating and may even put you in danger."
She advises riders to always "check" before moving off even when the overseas traffic lights are in your favour.
In other countries, where expressways are not fenced-up, wild animals can get onto highways.
Riders also should be more alert on expressways near villages, logistics officer Surinderpal Singh, 39, found out in 2005 while riding in southern Thailand.
Without warning, a biker with a child sitting on his lap cut across Mr Singh's path.
The brief collision broke Mr Singh's motorcycle mirror and damaged his bike's bodywork. Luckily, nobody was hurt.
Mr Singh, who is a seasoned long-distance rider, told TNP: "There was nothing I could have done. If the Thai rider had been a little fast, all of us would have been injured or killed."
Aside from your motorcycle's roadworthiness, road signs should not be taken for granted.
In Phatthalung, Thailand, where a New Year's Eve bike accident resulted in the deaths of two Singaporeans, there were warning signs, said Thai investigating officer, Inspector Mitikom.
It had then been drizzling near the fatal accident site, near Srinagarindra district.
"There are road signs alerting motorists of the winding road conditions," Insp Mitikom told TNP. "Signs there also tell motorists to slow down."
The two victims were thrown into a ditch when their motorcycle hit a barrier after it went out of control.
Straight roads may add monotony to the riding experience, said long-distance rider Poh Yu Seung, who has made forays into Central Asia.
It is important to be well-rested and not ride after a night of partying because a rider could lose concentration on the road.
Mr Poh, 48, suggests getting a helmet-to-helmet intercom system and riding with a buddy.
Aside from watching out for each other's safety on the road, talking keeps you awake and makes the journey less boring.
But without preparation, a rider is simply tempting fate.