When we travel abroad, we tend to think that nothing will ever happen to us, and that the local laws are just for, well, the local people. Nothing ever happens to tourists, they arrive, enjoy the holiday, and then go home. At least, that seems to be the impression of many folk. This is backed up by the number of people who decide that a few dollars on top of a holiday costing hundreds, is way too much for insurance cover. When something does go wrong though, and they end up in a foreign country’s hospital, things can get really bad if no insurance is available.
This is why the first rule when it comes to safety when going to the Philippines is to have travel insurance. Although some banks and credit card include insurance, these are very stripped down versions, and it is much better to buy a separate policy. Costs of healthcare in the Philippines can quickly mount if a stay in hospital is required along with an operation. The travel insurance also covers for certain aspects of being in a traffic accident, such as medical treatment.
Driving in the Philippines is relatively safe, especially in the major cities. The most likely problem is to have a slow speed accident, as the speed limits are low. On the main highways or out in the jungle things are a lot different. Roads are not in the conditions many westerners would expect, with the lack of lighting at night, and very few barriers and warning signs on corners. Seat belt laws also do not apply in the Philippines, but if you have respect for your own life, you will use them. They reduce road deaths by a huge margin, as well as serious injury.
When driving on unknown roads, reduce speed. It is common for kids to be on the road, along with animals. There will also be areas where rice is drying on the road. Philippine drivers are very impatient, so if someone gets up your ass, just pull to the side so that they can overtake at the earliest opportunity, do not keep them stuck behind. At night, some vehicles will not have their lights on, especially motorbikes. Only drive at a speed relative to what can be clearly seen.