Maxim Kasutin, 27, was probably drunk and lost at the time, the officers added.
He escaped when the Silver Honda Accord crashed into an improvised water tank at a Burmese laborers' camp in southern Phuket and probably watched it burst into flames.
The crash came at 1.30am on a dirt track off Yodsanae Road, which runs off Chao Fa Road West in the backblocks of Chalong.
Mr Kasutin left the scene and it wasn't until 7.30am that his relatives contacted Chalong Police Station to report the crash, police said.
They believed Mr Kasutin had been visiting a friend but in the early morning darkness lost his way and crashed and had probably been drinking.
A 10-metre drop over a cliff was just a metre away.