2012 was a tough year for Swedes in Thailand. 105 died, which is the highest number ever in one year and almost double from the 55 deaths in 2007.
“There have been unusually many traffic accidents involving Swedes in the first half of 2012. Another reason is that is becoming more popular to retire in Thailand. Many die of natural causes,” says Pär Kågeby from the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok.
The increase in deaths among Swedes in Thailand seems to be continuing. During the first three months 28 Swedish nationals died. Like in the past years, accidents, natural deaths and suicides are among the most common causes. On average five Swedes commit suicide every year in Thailand,
Many foreign tourists underestimate how dangerous the Thai traffic can be. According to WHO more than 26.000 people are killed yearly on the roads of Thailand in 2010. In comparison 296 died in Sweden because of road accidents in 2012.
”Many Swedes are not used to the left side traffic. They also leave Swedish traffic precautions at home and often drive without a helmet, which they would never do back home,” says Pär Kågeby.
But even if people do their part to travel safely on the roads, you can still get in accidents. Traffic morale is low, speed is high and Thailand has a high number of drunk drivers.
One of the worst accidents were when four Swedish youths aged 20 and 22 crashed and were all killed. They were travelling from Phuket to Koh Tao. They had hired a car with a private driver but they were hit by an oncoming vehicle where the driver fled the scene.
“Only half of the Swedes who lost their lifes in 2012 were insured. Many believe that the same rules apply in Thailand as in the EU, but that is not the case and casualties and injuries can become an expensive affair,” says Pär Kågeby.