Most travellers conscietiously ensure they’ve had the necessary vaccinations before leaving, check travel warnings and avoid tap water/ice/street food, etc. Yet very little attention is paid to a very real danger when travelling which is much more difficult to prevent against – traffic accidents.
Travelling by road is something that many travelers do frequently and without a second thought. In the last twenty-four hours five British tourists were killed in Ecuador and fifteen were injured. Over the past weekend people throughout South East Asia have been celebrating the new year. Thais are celebrating Songkran – this site has some photos. As with many festivals it is a particularly dangerous period to be on the road; the Bangkok Post reports that ‘Some 1,220 accidents were recorded on Friday and Saturday, with 1,411 people injured, in addition to the deaths’. The tradition of drenching passersby with water during this festival in Thailand (including those on motorcycles) helps to add to the danger.
I’m certainly not suggesting avoiding travel by road; traffic accidents are a fact of life everywhere – and travelling by bus may be much less dangerous than just crossing a major street. A representative of the company that arranged the Ecuador trip described the risk as ‘inherent’, which is pretty much spot on.
However, taking the obvious precautions of travelling with a reputable bus company, avoiding bus travel at night, during busy festival periods or on routes known to be dangerous and taking extreme care when driving overseas are no less important than anti-malarials or vaccinations. Tragedies such as those in South America put into perspective some of those dangers travellers spend an inordinate amount of time stressing over.