Motorbike rear lights

Vocational College students replace a rear light.

Vocational College students replace a rear light.

ANYONE WHO HAS DRIVEN on a dark Phuket road at night will know the heart-stopping experience of having a motorcycle with no rear light suddenly appear right in front. Rear-light bulbs cost just 20 baht, yet a straw poll suggests that as many as one in four of all motorbikes on Phuket don’t have a working rear light.

We are convinced that this is not due to tight-fistedness (“Twenty baht? Not worth it.)” or willful stupidity (“The people behind me have to look out for me, so I don’t need a light”). The fact is, very few people check their rear light before driving off on their motorbike – it’s a case of “out of sight, out of mind”.

The rear light poster produced by the PCF to educate bike riders (it was translated into Thai for the project).

The rear light poster produced by the PCF to educate bike riders (it was translated into Thai for the project).

The PCF has drawn a variety of people and organisations together to address this problem by replacing defective bulbs and at the same time trying to get the safety message across.

Motorcycle dealers donated bulbs, the Kusondharm Foundation lend us a tent and chairs are borrowed from a nearby wat. Students from the Vocational College give up a couple of days of their free time to change bulbs. The PCF designed and made posters, which bike owners can read while their bulbs are changed, explaining why a rear light can save the rider’s life.

The total cost to the PCF of the first session, during which we made 150 motorbikes safer, was about 7,000 baht. Because we already had the posters, the second session cost almost nothing, yet made more than 100 riders safer in the dark. We have since held more sessions, and will continue to do so regularly.

We are also now collecting information on the make, model and year of each motorbike with a defective rear light. Once we have information of 1,000 or so bikes, we hope that this will show whether certain makes or models are particularly susceptible to this. We will then approach manufacturers with this information in the hope that they can come up with solutions that will make rear light bulbs last much longer.

This programme has been recognised by the authorities as a useful and important road safety initiative. One session was opened by one of Phuket’s deputy police chiefs, while another was opened by the Governor of Phuket, Wichai Phraisa-ngop.

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  1. Alex #

    This is a great idea. If I had 1 baht for every single bike I see on a daily basis with no rear lights or no lights at all, I’d be rich. I think this should be heavily inforced by the authorities and hand out ridiculous fines for this. I would even go as far as temporarily confiscate the motorbike. No matter how poor you are, since you own a bike, you can still make sure your lights are working. This should be the police’s job.

  2. 2

    Very good idea, well done.

    In the UK it is also a legal requirement for all motorcycles to have a rear reflector as well. Just for back up should the bulb fail.

    It is our responsabillity to check the bulbs before we ride. But bulbs will blow sometimes due to how they work, it is not fair to penalise someone just for a blown bulb.

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