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Bali may be beautiful but the roads are far more deadly than on Phuket

Phuket Loses 'Carnage' Title to Bali

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
PHUKET: Just seven road deaths were recorded on Phuket in June - the equal lowest toll for a month so far this year - giving hope that safety messages are reaching motorcycle riders and other Phuket travellers.

While the serious injuries continue at more than 1100 a month, Phuket can sympathise with its horror-struck tourism rival, Bali, where the roads are now considered to be scenes of ''unprecedented carnage.''

The number of deaths for June on Phuket is surpassed every day on Bali, according to the Jakarta Globe newspaper, which reports that an average of more than eight people died every 24 hours on Bali's roads in March, April and May.

The three-month total of 758 people dying on Bali's roads is 200 more fatalities than on Bali for all of last year.

One correspondent to the newspaper online noted: ''Having lived in Bali for three years I am dismayed but not surprised by these numbers. At the current rate Bali road accidents will claim over 3000 lives during 2011, an appalling number.''

The remarkable figure has come to light just as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is about to join the foreign ministers of the 10-nation Asean bloc on Bali for their annual talkfest.

If one of the real life-and-death issues of rapid development needs to be discussed, delegates will only have to go as far as the roads crisscrossing the island to see the danger first hand.

''I live down the road from a large school in Ubud, and hardly any of the students riding motorbikes use helmets, their parents and the school authorities\teachers should be ashamed,'' wrote another correspondent to the Globe.

''How hard can it be to make it a rule to wear a crash helmets, it is criminally bad parenting and callous indifference by authorities. Most car drivers are just idiots with no driving skills whatsoever.''

Phuketwan Phuket Person of the Year 2010, Colonel Wanchai Eakpornpit, is now writing a book about how his ''100 percent helmet'' strategy for villages and towns helped to turn around the attitude to road safety on Phuket.

Bali could use Colonel Wanchai right now.

Phuket and Bali are always going to be friendly rivals when it comes to tourism, but as the head of Bali Police's traffic department said with masterly understatement: ''This has become a great concern.''

Bali's population is reported to be close to four million, while Phuket's unofficial head count is about one million.

The monthly toll for June on Phuket takes Phuket's toll for the year to 65 so far, precisely half last year's total of 130.

Only two deaths from drowning were recorded for June on Phuket.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


What happened to the helmet campaign? is is over? why are there so many not wearing helmets anymore? Does anyone know?

Posted by Philip on July 19, 2011 17:50


This is not supposed to be good news for anyone but why do I feel slightly better for it?

Then again it could be due to the probability of it all, that Bali has 4 times the population of Phuket hence 4 times the death count.

Posted by May on July 19, 2011 17:50

Editor Comment:

May, Phuket's annual toll will be about 130. Bali's will be approaching 3000 - approximately 20 times the toll.


Phuket hates competition so it's helmets off, gladiators are you ready time?
May the better grim reapers win.
Sorry Monica, this is just T in Cheek.
Sad but true.
Let's hope Phuket looses this battle of carnage.

Posted by Robin on July 19, 2011 19:19


Just how many of the Bali deaths are motorcycle riders? With 1.5 million registered motorcycles and a lot of unregistered ones on the roads, they are like cockroaches scurrying around. They also ride with impunity as the Indonesian policy, which seems to be more enforced than the law, holds the driver of the larger vehicle responsible and accountable. Too many of these idiots ride the wrong way against the traffic flow. Stupid!

Posted by Anonymous on July 20, 2011 06:15



I think it Is about time you stop pushing the misnomer that the helmet campaign is working in Phuket. All of us who reside in Phuket know that this is simply not true and daily hundreds, if not thousands, of motorbike riders ride helmet less with impunity.
Whilst I am sure the colonels idea to actually uphold an existing law was made with a positive goal, it has not been successful.

Posted by Jimmy on July 20, 2011 08:40

Editor Comment:

How can you say something has not been successful when it's still a work in progress? Years of entrenched mindset need to be overcome. Perhaps you don't get up early enough, Jimmy, to see the kids riding to school in Phuket City wearing helmets. As long as the police, schools and authorities don't follow your lead and abandon hope, it will work. Those who place false faith in overnight transformations are doomed to disappointment. Phuket has pulled back from the Bali brink and we can be grateful for that. Look again, Jimmy: the glass is half-full.


Bali is 5632 square kilometers versus Phuket's 570. And helmets are mandatory already, it's just that lots of people don't obey the laws. And when tourists are pulled over for not wearing helmets they scream "corruption."

Posted by Anonymous on July 20, 2011 10:26


Good work on keeping this in focus Ed. Having just heard that a former student was killed on her way back to Phuket in a bus accident makes me sick to my stomach. The bus driver may have been speeding in a notoriously dangerous section of road in the rain.

A future doctor and a great human being that we will never see again because of this. The driving is appalling, and this is a 'professional driver' that let everyone down. Let's try to hit 0 deaths on the road, no matter what the mode of transport is.

Posted by In mourning on July 20, 2011 11:15


Bali has its weaknesses like any other place, so does ignorance and disobedience. However, you still get a piece of fulfillment when stepping onto Bali island. Carnage sounds discouraging and harming but kudos to the writer for putting this up so everyone can learn something to make life better.

Posted by beaulife in Bali on July 20, 2011 11:23


all good news the more helmets are worn the better! and it does save lives! shane

Posted by shane free on July 25, 2011 01:04


Good news in a way I suppose.

But Phukets official population is around 250.000..It may be close to a million including all foreigners and if you count the approximately 200.000 burmese workers here, but those Burmese are not driving for sure. I guess by the same count, Balis "unofficial" population is much higher than the official 3,891,000 since they have a huge number of non-balinese working on the island from the more populous regions of Indonesia. So, why use the inofficial number when describing Phuket and the official number when describing Bali?
Either use 250.000 vs 3,981,000 or, say, 6-7 million vs 1 million.

Posted by christian on July 25, 2011 15:19

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