Safety Concerns

Tips on Handling the TRaffic

Is it Safe to drive a scooter in Bali?

Yes, and no. Getting and driving a scooter or motorbike in Bali is rather easy which is mainly due to a lack of law enforcement. Unfortunately this also seems to encourage visitors to be a bit too careless about their own safety when it comes to renting a scooter or a motorbike, which leads regularly to horrible accidents and huge painful dramas. Scooter accidents are probably the most common “problems” travelers experience in Bali and in that sense, it’s also the most dangerous activity – but mostly self-induced, and sometimes even fatal. 

Basic Safety Rules

  • Choose a RELIABLE Rental Company
  • Always wear a helmet with a strap
  • Protect your eyes (helmet or sunglasses)
  • Closed shoes if possible
  • Check the bike before driving off (breaks, lights, tire pressure)
  • No alcohol, no drugs!
  • Always horn when overtaking
  • Expect anything anytime appearing from anywhere – no joke!!
  • Don’t speed, anything between 25 and 35km/h is sufficient
  • Roads can be slippery, particularly after or during rain fall
  • Always watch the road for holes, stones, rubble
  • Exhaust can be really hot, watch your leg
  • Ask the rental guys about insurance
  • Keep the name and mobile number of the rental guys with you

Main Factors for getting in trouble with a scooter

Adapting to the Traffic Conditions

The traffic itself is a challenge. It’s different to what most people are used to at home, so it can be confusing, overwhelming. Even though it looks as if there are no rules, there are indeed rules that everybody in a way knows and plays along with.

Overestimating yourself and your skills

Accidents with scooters and motorbikes happen very often. Most accidents with tourists happen because they overestimate themselves and their driving skills. Driving too fast! It’s very easy, even for beginners getting used to two motorised wheels, to drive fast, but to control a difficult situation, to break hard or to take narrow curve is something that needs practice. 

Stupidity, drinking (and drugs)

It can be tempting to drink a few Bintang beers, and drive back home on your scooter in the middle of the night and save on the taxi fee. But you would not be the first one who would leave Bali in a wooden box because a dog crossed your way in the darkness, a truck appeared without lights, or a hole in the street was the last thing you remember when waking up in the hospital.

Stay on High Alert - ALWAYS!

The Basics of Bali’s Traffic

Traffic is on the left side like in the UK

  • Horn means: Please notice me, it’s not a sign of aggression
  • Many narrow roads, not many signs. Always bring your phone using a map-service
  • Your side of the road, will be used by others that come from the opposite direction. You don’t own the road or have the right of way
  • Trucks and cars can overtake recklessly and expect you to make space – in any direction
  • You will share roads with dogs, chickens, cows, children, fallen coconuts, parked vehicles.
  • Changing lines without using the indicator is normal, expect anybody to change lane anytime
  • Road conditions can be bad and change overnight
  • Roads get closed off for processions
  • Traffic flow is rarely faster than 30-40km/h
  • Main roads (Jl. Bypass….) ca. 60-70km/h

Bali’s 13 Spiritual Traffic Principles: Stay Sane & Centered

  1. Don’t get angry
  2. Don’t get offended – breath
  3. It’s not all about you
  4. Don’t take yourself too seriously
  5. No need to rush things
  6. Nothing is what it seems
  7. Anything can happen anytime
  8. Let things flow naturally
  9. Don’t insist
  10. Accept others how they are
  11. Feel, sense, anticipate
  12. Stay respectful
  13. Always be alert, aware and fully conscious

Anything can happen – anytime. And Anything will happen, if you drive around long enough

Anybody can and does enter a main road at any time without looking. Here one of the main rules applies: Whatever you can see in front of you is your responsibility. So a motorbike driver cutting into your main road believes that you will notice him and that you would make space or slow down. If you want to overtake somebody you MUST use your horn, so they know you are coming; otherwise, they might move right or left unexpectedly. Also here, the unwritten rule applies, that you need to notice and adapt to what is or appears in front of you.

Many speed bumps are placed on villages or neighbourhood area, and they could be improperly built (too wide and too high). Always ride max 20km/ hour when you are entering this area.

Rather drive too slowly than too fast.

Road Conditions

Construction trucks deliver sand, stones, building material to building sites. More often than not, this load will be dumped on the roadside. Nobody is offended and navigates around this pile because this is how things are here. At best, they put a stick or tree branch in it to warn you. Something very difficult to see, when it’s dark.

Small stones,loose chippings sand and if so rain creates a surface where your tire loses grip easily. Particularly when the street is wet, or in curves.

dangerous road in Bali

No Helmet – No Protection

No helmet? Not a good idea. And if your helmet does not have a glass, then you should use sunglasses at least. It can be dusty and dirty. Never drive barefoot. Sandals and flip flops are the shoe-wear suitable for all occasions in Bali, but if can, use sneakers, then you will be much safer.

Driving a Car in Bali or Renting a Car?

We do not recommend renting a car without a driver on Bali. A car with a driver costs you between 10 and 15US$ per day more than just the car; but saves you a lot of hassle. Most people rent a car for a day-trip to discover the island, do some sightseeing, etc. A full-day sightseeing can be in itself exhausting because there is so much to see and to explore.

A driver will be faster, will know his way around, knows where and when it is possible to park and will wait at the car and watch your belongings at all times. More often than not, he will become a good companion and tour guide for your day trip. And after a full day of visiting temples, botanic gardens etc. you will be happy that it was not you sitting behind the steering wheel. And if something happens with the car, it won’t be you who gets the blame.