Friday, October 28, 2011

German Mother, 47, Killed, Son, 17, Seriously Injured in Motorbike Accident on Phuket

German tourist Nicole Wittig, 47, was killed on Wednesday (October 26) while driving a motorbike at about 2300 on Phuket [Thailand]. Wittig's son, Mark, 17, sitting behind her, was seriously injured on Phuket [Thailand], when Nicole suddenly crossed the center line and hit an oncoming Toyota Camry.

Sadly, Wittig's husband,
Ruediger, was driving another motorbike with Mark’s twin brother, Tom, on board. At the time of the accident, the family was returning to their room at the Laguna Beach Resort after having dinner.

Mrs. Wittig died while being transported to nearby Thalang Hospital after suffering severe chest trauma in the accident. Mark remains unconscious in Bangkok Hospital-Phutket's cardiovascular unit. Nicole and her son, Mark, were not wearing helmets at the time.

The driver of the Camry, Chalermpol Thavorn, 32, told police that when he reached a curve in the road, Wittig’s Yamaha Mio crossed the line and collided with his vehicle.

COMMENT: Accidents like this are so very tragic. Clearly, the Wittig family will be changed forever, when this was an avoidable event. It is unknown whether Mrs. Wittig had ever driven a motorbike before, but let's examine the many risks she confronted when the family began to return to their hotel from the restaurant late at night.

First of all, in Germany, vehicles drive on the right, whereas in Thailand, they drive on the LEFT. Converting to a different driving pattern during hours of daylight is difficult enough, but try doing it at night? Secondly, Nicole and her son were not wearing helmets. Thirdly, she did not know the road, which is also poorly lighted, which intensifies the lights from oncoming vehicles. A fourth factor is that the family had had an unusually busy day and would be returning to Germany the next morning.

Now, looking at motorbike drivers on Phuket generally, the majority of them have never driven a motorbike before, yet rental companies will rent these vehicles in a dangerous driving environment with their never having been on a motorbike before. Hence, there is a crying need for better regulation.

A last factor to look at is whether Mrs. Wittig consumed any alcoholic beverages at dinner. If she had, this could well have caused her to cross the center line of the road.

Beautiful and exciting as Phuket is, it has some of the most dangerous roads in Asia. It's population density also increases the risk of fatal accidents. Consequently, I would not recommend cutting corners when it comes to details. If you don't have a Thai Motorbike /Motorcycle License,

DON'T drive these vehicles, particularly if you don't have any experience-- Thailand is not the place to learn.

Any medical costs or property damage stemming from an accident you're involved in will result in the accident being YOUR fault. Regardless of what rental operators tell you, if you don't have a license you may be fined at police checkpoints for not having a license. If you don't have a license and don't wear a helmet, you can also be fined. If you know you're going to Thailand and plan to rent a motorbike or motorcycle, and know how to ride these vehicles, you can obtain a license for roughly US$45.

A final and very important point: If you're traveling abroad, anything can happen, as the Wittigs sadly discovered. Don't leave home until you have obtained INTERNATIONAL medical treatment and evacuation coverage. If you're hurt, sick or injured, you will have to pay for treatment before being treated. If you need a list of providers, send me an email at: and I'll send you one free of charge.

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