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Thinking of getting a moped whilst you’re on your gap year? 

The official advice from organisations such as ABTA  https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/staying-safe-on-holiday/quad-bike-and-moped-safety is that there are always safer ways to travel than by moped. But we know that is not always helpful advice: you may be really keen on the idea of a moped, or in an area where they really do seem like the most practical option for travel, or with a group of people who are all on mopeds themselves. If you are getting on a moped, whether as the driver or the passenger, we’ve put together a few tips to make this as safe as possible. 


Wearing a helmet really matters. Studies<link tohttps://road-safety.transport.ec.europa.eu/statistics-and-analysis/statistics-and-analysis-archive/powered-two-wheelers/helmets_en> have shown that helmets “are effective in reducing head injuries to motorcyclists who crash by 72%”. So, wear a helmet and make sure that it fits and is done up properly. This last bit is important, we’ve supported an incident where a gap year traveller fell from a moped and because the chin strap was not done up, the helmet fell off on impact leaving the rider in a coma. 

Suitable shoes and clothing

What you wear on a moped makes a big difference. While we know that you’re not going to have a full set of biking leathers (nor would you want to wear them in a hot country), there are clothing choices which are more or less appropriate. It’s pretty much common sense but here are a few things to think about: 

We have had prior experience with an incident caused by a dress getting caught in the back wheel of a moped, forcing the rider off the bike. They were in a critical condition requiring an international transfer by air ambulance for surgery. 

Road signs and local road laws

There are many places where there seems to be no rules to driving and using roads, but this is never actually the case. Knowing the basics of the road laws in the country where you are hiring a moped makes a big difference to your safety. You should also assume that the laws (official and not) of the road will not be the same as back home – so don’t expect people to drive in the same way you might be used to! 

A few things to consider: 


These are mandatory pretty much everywhere. There are plenty of places where you will be able to pick up a moped without providing evidence of a driving licence but this doesn’t make it legal. Riding without a driver’s licence could also invalidate your insurance. 


When fined for a driving violation, you will often be expected to pay the police officer right then and there. This may be a valid fine, or it may be a payment to the police to stop them from giving you an official fine. It is wise to have some cash on you to avoid the situation escalating. 

Signals and traffic lights

If you’re used to driving in the UK and Ireland, you will know that it’s incredibly rare for anyone to ignore a traffic light. This is often not the case in many countries, so don’t assume that the lights being in your favour mean that it is safe to proceed. Check, check and check again!

In some countries, including Thailand, traffic signals have a countdown to the lights changing colour. When the timer gets low, there is often a rush of vehicles trying to get through before the lights change colour. 

Gaps in traffic

If you’re used to leaving a two-car long gap between you and the vehicle in front of you, you need to be prepared for other vehicles filling the gap. Be prepared to brake suddenly! 

Right of way

In many parts of Asia there seems to be an unofficial right of way system where the bigger the vehicle, the more priority they have. Don’t expect a lorry, bus or taxi to give way to you. 

Moped safety checks

Check your moped for damage and safety when you first hire it. Make sure the brakes, lights and horn work and that there is tread on the tyres. 

If there is any damage to the moped when you first get it, make sure it is photographed and noted before you leave otherwise you will be expected to pay for the damage on your return. 


Check that your travel insurance includes moped hire, as some insurance will not cover the use of motorised transport. It is also important to check that you are following the local laws as, if you are not, your insurance can be invalidated. These are likely to include having a valid driver’s licence even if you are not asked for one by the hire shop. 




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