We get a lot of questions about tuktuk and safety. Also, there are a lot of people warning that the roads in Sri Lanka are not safe, that you should not drive there, that you are playing with your life, that you are crazy, etc, etc. So we decided to do a bit of research and see what the statistic say about how safe it is to drive a tuktuk in Sri Lanka. Our conclusion:

So is it safe to drive a tuktuk? Absolutely.

To-date we’ve had over 800 customers and we haven’t had a serious accident involving another vehicle, nor have we had any injury greater than a scratch (my fingers remain crossed). But, don’t let our personal opinion tell the story, why don’t we look at road safety statistics? I will present some points below, with the details to follow.

  • 93% of road accidents in Sri Lanka are not fatal (source 1)
  • It’s less safe to be a pedestrian on the roads than it is to drive a tuktuk (source 2)
  • Tuktuks have less fatalities than motorcycles, buses, light vehicles, lorries and bicycles (source 3)
  • Tuktuks have the LOWEST deaths per vehicle kilometer travelled (source 4)
  • The speed limit for tuktuks is 40km/hr all over Sri Lanka.
  • A tuktuk as a vehicle isn’t as safe as a car (it doesn’t have airbags), however, the low speeds compensates for this.

There are 1.2 million tuktuks driving around Sri Lanka (verbal communication Department of Motor Transport, 2017), they form a very high proportion of the vehicle fleet on the island. There are more tuktuks than cars in Sri Lanka. There is actually a higher chance to be killed walking on the street, than driving a tuktuk or any other vehicle (source 2).

In terms of fatal road accidents, tuktuks are involved in less fatal accidents than motorcycles, buses, light vehicles, lorries and bicycles (source 4). Using these statistics, we can see that tuktuks are involved in only 6.4% of fatal road accidents. Much less than people would have you believe! Again showing that a tuktuk is quiet a safe mode of transport.

There are four categories of vehicles are involved in 73% of fatal accidents (source 4): 1. light vehicles (vans), 2. lorries, 3. motorcycles and 4. buses.

Photo of Rhiannon by Kevin Oudshoorn (Instagram: @balanced.knapsack)

Fatalities by vehicle kilometers

Perhaps a more important statistic is how many fatalities there are, compared with how many kilometers the vehicles are going on the roads. It would be silly to say that hovercraft are the safest vehicles in Sri Lanka for example, because although they account for no deaths (I think), they don’t actually travel many kilometers.

You’ll be pleased to find out that tuktuks have the LOWEST DEATHS PER VEHICLE KILOMETER TRAVELLED. This means, per kilometer travelled they are the safest vehicles on the roads of Sri Lanka (source 4).

Our own experience

The speed limit for driving a tuktuk is 40km/hr all across the island, so typically accidents aren’t as fatal due to the lower speeds. The process of getting a drivers licence in western countries is generally much more difficult than in Asian countries. Road-rules and learning to anticipate are things not often thought in Asia, but are learned by westerners when they go for their drivers licence. We give all our customers a comprehensive driving lesson and make sure you are able to drive the Sri Lankan roads, to be honest we have even given customers a full refund because they where not able to drive to our standards! But to quote one of our driving instructors “it is easier to teach a foreigner to drive a tuktuk than a Sri Lankan”.

Hope this helps you making a decision to drive in Sri Lanka. We know you are going to have a fantastic time. Happy tuktuk travelling everyone!

Book your tuktuk in Sri Lanka now through www.tuktukrental.com.

Sources:

  1. 93% of accidents in Sri Lanka are non-fatal – http://www.statistics.gov.lk/Abstract2016/CHAP7/7.4_7.5_7.6.pdf
  2. More pedestrians involved in accidents – http://www.sundaytimes.lk/160103/news/road-deaths-reach-record-high-of-2-700-in-2015-177260.html
  3. There are more tuktuk than cars in Sri Lanka – http://www.statistics.gov.lk/Abstract2016/CHAP7/7.1_7.2.pdf
  4. Analysis of Road Accidents in Sri Lanka – https://kumarage.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/2003-b-1-kumarage-a-s-wickremasinghe-s-m-and-p-jayaratne-analysis-of-road-accidents-in-sri-lanka-51-pages.pdf

The information we found is not the most recent, but we can say that not much has changed other than the roads improving thus making it even safer to drive a tuktuk.

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