Immediately on arrival in Denpasar one of the first things that struck me, and many others I am sure, was the traffic. Not necessarily just the volume, but the driving habits and the frequency of motorbikes and scooters.
Scooters are everywhere. Not only do they transport people, but they can also carry an amazing array and amount of loads. These photos give some idea of how they are utilised.
In addition to this, the scooter is also the family car. But no child safe restraints here, in fact it was not uncommon to see Mum and Dad wearing helmets, with the kids (including very young babies) totally unprotected. A younger child was often seen standing at the front on the scooter between Dad's arms, with Mum cradling a baby. This would certainly raise more than a few eyebrows in NZ!
However, my observation of the Indonesian people is that they are pretty laid back. As is indicative of this, road rage was non existent. A gentle toot of the horn to advise of their presence is constantly made by drivers. Defensive driving seems to be an innate skill, especially for the scooter riders. Same with a finely tuned sense of balance and quick reactions. The rules of the road and traffic signals were unclear to me as a passenger. Because of all this, I would have expected to see several accidents, however the only one I saw was on the open road on our way to our diving destination, when the motorcyclist simply didn't look behind him. But in the hurly-burly of the built up areas, where traffic was thick and constant, I didn't see a single crash.
It is the patience, consideration for other drivers/riders and adherence to (likely unwritten?) "road rules" that appears to enable safe travel in what looks like a certain disaster zone to the novice visitor. We could learn from that here.