Driving on Lao roads is a main area of concern for newcomers as they fear reckless motorbike drivers and anarchic roundabouts. Driving a vehicle is first of all about safety, even after an accident has happened.
No matter what type of road traffic accident you get involved in, here are a few tips as to what you should do:
1 – STAY CALM. Do not move any vehicle related to the accident. If you cannot remain calm or if you are injured, ask for assistance.
2 – SECURE the perimeter by putting your reflector triangle or laying some branches on the road a least 2-3 meters before and after the scene of the accident. This is to make the accident as visible as possible so other vehicles do not make a bigger mess.
3- ALERT the police if you can. If you are in Vientiane and someone got injured, call “Vientiane Rescue” at 1623
4- ASSESS the people that are involved in the accident: who is injured? how bad is their condition? If you have no first aid knowledge it is recommended not to move anyone that is injured. Instead, talk to the person and make sure they remain conscious and calm.
5- Once the perimeter is secured and the situation stable, alert the authorities if you haven’t already done so, and call your car insurance company. The reason why you should not move any vehicle is so the company can assess the damage and advise you from that point.
6- Once the police have arrived ask them to tend to the injured first. Let them know who is hurt and how bad their injuries are. Lao police officers know very little English, so if you don’t speak Lao or don’t have access to a translator, try to make yourself clear, using simple English words and hand signs if necessary (all whilst remaining calm).
If you are not responsible for the accident, do not let the responsible person leave the scene. Secure his or her vehicle keys or driver’s license until the authorities arrive at the scene. If you can, exchange contact details with other parties involved. Verify the authenticity of these details (try calling).
Do not leave the accident scene before the police or the claim officer of the insurance company have arrived.
The police report respectively the insurance report needs to be signed by both parties. It is recommended that you get a translator at this point so you and the other parties reach a complete understanding of each other. Do not sign anything if you are not sure, instead summarize your understanding in English and only sign this.
Of course, the best way to deal with road accidents is to prevent them, so keep in mind that while driving in Laos, you should remain calm and expect the unexpected! Fasten your seat belt, let other drivers know your intentions long before you stop, turn or change lanes.
Better safe than sorry!