Road Traffic Accidents Kill More People in the World than Malaria!

Got your attention?! It definitely got mine reading this- perhaps unbelievable? But true. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), road traffic accidents (RTAs) kill more people around the world than malaria, and are the leading cause of death for young people aged 5 to 29 – especially in developing countries. Each year WHO estimates that worldwide 1.3 million people are killed on roads and up to 50 million people are injured in RTAs, globally.

Many of the students I see each year in our Travel Clinics travel to SE Asia, Thailand being a very popular destination and usual first port of call for most. Thailand has been classed as one of the deadliest holiday destinations for Britons. This is a direct result of fatal motorbike accidents.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statistics show that between 1st April 2012 and 31st March 2013, there were 870,164 visitors to Thailand. During this time there were 389 deaths and 285 hospitalisations, this number has increased by 31% (a third) and was linked to RTAs.

Thailand is the 4th country in the world in which Britons are most likely to require consular assistance (behind Spain, USA and France).

I know when I was backpacking in my early 20’s around Thailand, I was not made aware of these dangers in my pre travel clinic appointment, and I was totally ignorant/unaware of these risks. So there I was happily zipping around on a scooter- in my shorts, flip-flops and vest, no helmet on- I can’t actually remember if I had any insurance to ride one! I had a few near misses, but fortunately I was lucky- nothing serious.

Like me, often tourists to hot destinations ride scooters with no helmet while wearing shorts, a vest top and flip-flops. Think aboutwhat might happen  if you fell off your scooter- the risk of major injury and need for hospitalisation is significant. Also many backpackers, being broke, forgo travel insurance as well.

In March 2013, the Foreign Office launched a road safety campaign for driving abroad. The focus is very much on Thailand:

‘After deaths from natural causes, road traffic deaths are the most common cause of death for British nationals in Thailand and cause a high number of hospitalisations. The majority of RTAs involve motorcycles and scooters, although serious accidents also occur with other vehicles. For instance, in the past year a number of British nationals were involved in accidents whilst travelling by overnight coach.’

Mark Kent, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, said:

“British nationals using the roads in Thailand should bear in mind that road laws and driving customs here are different from those in the UK and road conditions, driving standards and road traffic regulations can vary.”

So if you are planning on motorcycling around Thailand, as many backpackers do, what safety measures can you exercise?

*Make sure you can ride one safely first! Many people have their first try on a scooter whilst abroad and may not be familiar with the controls and how to ride one.

*Make yourself aware of the laws and driving customs in the Country

*Wear a helmet: Thai law states that safety helmets must be worn- this is widely ignored in Thailand.

*Ensure you have comprehensive, adequate travel insurance- due to financial pressures you may skip on travel insurance in a bid to save money- this may have significant repercussions in the event of any accident/injury.

*Check the small print of the lease agreement and don’t hand over your passport as a guarantee against returning a motorcycle or scooter. Unscrupulous owners have been known to hold on to passports against claimed damage to the motorcycle or scooter.

*Bear in mind, many of the motorcycles and scooters that are available for hire in beach resorts are unregistered and cannot legally be driven on a public road. This could invalidate any travel insurance policy should you wish to make a claim.

Finally… Do not drink and drive






BBQ safety!

Plan ahead for barbecue weather!

The summer break has arrived for most students, and while the weather might not be as sunny and warm as we’d all hoped, there has been the odd day of great weather.

Barbecues are one of the most popular social activities over the summer but before you dust off your old barbecue and start heating up the coals, here is some essential fire and barbecue safety advice from fire safety specialists Firemart (

Take care when deciding where to position your barbecue
Barbecues should only be used on flat surfaces, outdoors, and you should ensure they are not placed near any shrubs, trees or any furniture which could catch fire.

It’s also worth thinking about your use of the outdoor area – any games or activities taking place should be kept well away from the barbecue area, as well as away from any children or pets.

Safe Barbecue usage
If you’re in charge of cooking on the barbecue we advise that you avoid drinking alcohol until your cooking duties have finished.

For coal barbecues, only use approved barbecue lighter fluid, and make sure you use the minimum amount necessary. You should never use petrol or other fuels which were not meant for barbecues as these can ignite ferociously…and there could be the added side effect of your food tasting strange!
Choose barbecue utensils like tongs and forks which have long handles.

Food preparation

Aside from the fire safety elements, there are also some considerations when it comes to preparing your food for the barbecue. If you’re cooking meat from the freezer, ensure it is properly thawed before you cook it.

Remember that raw meat needs to be kept separately from cooked food – use different containers and utensils for each.

To avoid upset tummies the next day, ensure your meat is cooked on the barbecue throughout by turning it regularly.

After your Barbecue

Wait until your barbecue has cooled down completely before you attempt to move it or clean it, and never place hot barbecue coals into your bin. If your barbecue has a lid, you can speed up the cooling down process by placing the lid on – this removes the oxygen.

Some final tips
If the sun is out, don’t forget to wear sun screen, and if you’re feeling too hot then spend some time in the shade. Keep yourself hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water.


If you keep the above guidance in mind, and plan in advance for the next day of good weather, your next barbecue should be a success!