Driving in Bali - Things you should know

Driving in a foreign country can at first be quite a frightening act for even the most experienced drivers. Even though driving styles of Balinese drivers may vary, the rules of the road are exactly the same as in other developed nations. With a little bit of focus and patience, driving will give you independence to travel, become entirely manageable and an enjoyable experience.


Driving license

Having the international driving license already in hand will make things easier for you once on the road. It is possible to have one issued here, however the process can be difficult. If you don’t have international driving license be prepared to pay a fine when police stop you.


Traffic

  • Traffic in Bali can be slow moving and unpredictable, but being patient and taking in the beautiful scenery can become an enjoyable experience.
  • Ceremonies and processions can slow your travels, but do not honk or attempt to overtake – it is a part of Bali life and can be a wonderful way to experience true Bali culture.

Motorcycles

Motorcycles will be sharing the roads and they are known to weave in and out through traffic.

  • Be aware of your blind spots.
  • Proceed with caution through intersections and when making turns.
  • Use your indicators and your horn to keep things smooth.

Road conditions

Road conditions in some areas of Bali can be less then perfect. Driving at a reduced speed and being on the look out for potholes, road construction and other obstacles are advised. Navigating these conditions is more comfortable in a car, as opposed to a motorbike.

There are very few pedestrian crossings, so be on the look out for people crossing the streets. Also, dogs, cows and other animals can wander into the roadways so keep aware.

 

Parking

  • Parking in Bali is surprisingly simple – street parking is acceptable almost everywhere.
  • There will be signs indicating where it is not okay to park so follow these rules and look out for public parking areas or parking attendants to assist you.
  • Many restaurants, hotels and other recreational areas have valet services for a low cost.
  • Parking in a public lot should cost you 2,000-3,000 Rupiah (the rough equivalent of $.20-.30 cents US).

Directions

Maps are easy to buy and if you need additional directional assistance, do no hesitate to ask a local for help – the Balinese people are notorious for their hospitality. Make note of which direction you are headed in, as most will answer you with a north or south rather then a left or a right.

 

Police

The most common trouble you can get into is being stopped by the police. Things operate differently here, and when the police stop you, the best thing you can do is be polite and stay calm.

  • Arguing will most likely get you nowhere
  • The police will not want to actually write you a ticket, as it means you and them have to go down to the station at a later date. With a small amount of money they will generally let you go on your way
  • 50,000 - 100,000 rupiah (around $5-$10) is the typical amount that will get you out of most common problems. They will initially ask for more, but bargaining the price down is expected

Common Sense

Remember that things are less structured here and try to apply your own driving knowledge and "common sense" to each and every scenario. There are signs and traffic lights to guide things, so keep alert and focused while driving.

Procedure in case of accident

After a road accident takes place, and because most Indonesians do not have vehicle insurance, damage is often assessed and payment negotiated at the scene of the accident.

The Indonesian police classify road accidents as:

  • Kecelakahan ringan - minor
  • Kecelakahan sedang - medium
  • Kecelakahan berat - serious

1 By law, the police only need to be at the scene of an accident if they are called by a victim or if the accident is serious. Serious accidents include bodily injuries resulting in hospitalisation and/or death.

Police emergency number Tel: 110
The victim of a minor accident who has suffered bodily injuries has the right to call the police to make a police report, but if the victim is satisfactorily compensated at the scene by the party at fault, the victim may decide not to contact the police.

At the scene of an accident
A foreigner involved in a road accident must take great care immediately after the accident. Indonesia is known for its lax safety standards.

The law requires that every vehicle carries an emergency triangle and orange safety jacket. Place the triangle on the road, and wear the jacket

Damaged vehicles should be moved to the side of the road, if possible. However, road conditions are often not safe and there might not be a road-shoulder

Crowds may gather at the scene of an accident and further compromise safety. If the scene of an accident is dangerous for any reason, the police should be called to direct traffic and prevent too many onlookers from gathering

Minor accidents
For minor accidents, these are the general rules in Indonesia;

1. Reporting a road accident to the police is generally not required if death or serious injuries are not involved
2. Minor accidents are rarely reported to the police. The parties involved usually negotiate payment for damage to vehicles and people
3. The larger vehicle is often considered at fault. For example, the driver of a vehicle is usually expected to pay a motorbike rider for damage to property and person, whether at fault or not
4. If a foreign driver is involved, they are sometimes expected to pay for damages
5. For the party or parties who agree to pay, it is best to settle negotiations and make compensation immediately, before crowds gather and attempt to influence negotiations
6. Never leave the scene of an accident until all reporting and negotiations are finalised.

Accidents involving a foreign driver
Payment of damages often falls to the foreigner if he or she is the driver.

1. The foreigner can negotiate alone, or call in the police to conduct negotiations and file a report. If damages are slight, then extra-judicial (no official person present) negotiations might be preferable.
2. An insurance claim is not valid without an accompanying police report.

Police presence at an accident
Police go to an accident scene if it is serious or one of the parties involved demands it. They also file a report if they witness an accident.

The police have the power to conduct a musyawarah, or negotiation between the parties involved. Once agreed upon, the policeman can draw up a Sumbangan Wajib Dana Kecelakaan Lalu Lintas Jalan (SWDKLLJ), or Mandatory Financial Contribution as Compensation for a Road Accident.

If the SWDKLLJ determines the foreign driver is at fault and must pay damages, then there is not much recourse while at the scene of the accident. A payment has to be made or quickly arranged, otherwise the possibility exists of being detained by local authorities. If found at fault, the foreigner should demand the victim signs a Surat Pernyataan (affidavit) after the victim receives the agreed compensation. The statement should also be signed by the police, otherwise it may not be considered a legal affidavit. Without a signed, legal affidavit, the victim/paid party has legal recourse to seek out the paying party and request more money afterwards.

The SWDKLLJ is filed at the Sistem Administrasi Manunggal Satu Atap (SAMSAT) or "Administration Under One Roof". This office is the clearing house for all legal/governmental matters for motorised vehicles.

Accidents with serious bodily injuries
In the case of serious injuries, the police must be called immediately. If the accident happens in a remote area and the police cannot be contacted, responsibility lies with the party with a functioning vehicle to transport victims to the hospital, clinic or doctor's office. If the police arrive, they might be on motorbikes, and if an ambulance service is not available, they can demand that someone at the scene with a vehicle transports the victims - foreigners included.

Do not leave the scene of the accident until the police have given permission. This means waiting for the injured to be transported. Police assess the damage; they might conduct a negotiation (musyawarah), and then write their report.

If a foreigner needs a copy of the police report, ask for it immediately. Otherwise, find out where the local police office is and request a copy.

Insurance Claims
The following is a typical claims procedure as required by Indonesian insurance companies:

1. Report the accident or theft to the insurance company as soon as possible, and within a maximum of 24 hours
2. Take the vehicle to a garage (or bengkel) as authorised by the insurance company for repairs. If no authorised garage exists in the area, first ask for a repair estimate from another garage and submit it to the insurance company for authorisation in advance. The insurance company also inspects the vehicle prior to repair
3. Provide the following documents:
  • Claim form
  • Photocopy of driving licence and vehicle registration
  • Police Certificate (report) of accident or theft
  • Third-party claims - vehicle damage only

  1. The driver should not sign a Surat Pernyataan (affidavit) to any third party in a road accident, which assumes responsibility for the accident and damages to the vehicle owned by the third party
    Third parties should fax their claims along with a written police report detailing the accident
    If the insurance company deems the accident was the fault of the insured, then they will direct the third party to repair their vehicle at a designated garage

    Prior to repair, the insurance company must inspect damage done to the third party's vehicle
    The third party must provide the following documents;
  • Claim form
  • Photocopy of driving licence and vehicle registration - insured party
  • Photocopy of driving licence and vehicle registration - third party
  • Police Certificate (report) Statement of the uninsured - third party
  • Garage's repair estimate

    Third-party claims - bodily injuries
    The driver should not sign a Surat Pernyataan (affidavit) to any third party in a road accident ,which assumes responsibility for the accident and bodily injuries suffered by third parties as a result
    Third parties should fax their claims along with a written police report detailing the bodily injuries resulting from the accident
    The insurance company will study the claim along with accompanying documents and decide whether the insured is legally responsible
    The third party must submit all original receipts for medical expenses and funeral costs, or costs of repair to related property damage as a result of the accident
    If the insurance company agrees to pay a third-party claim, a Surat Pernyataan (affidavit) must be signed by the victim (third party) stating that an agreement was reached, payment made, and that no further financial compensation demands would be forthcoming as a result of any damage caused by the accident

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