So, the standard of driving in the country is on its way to hell, isn’t it? While face-to-face Malaysians can be some of the nicest folk you'll meet, on the road, something else seems to come over us, magnifying a selfish, courtesy-lacking attitude.
Or is it just that Malaysians aren't all that friendly anymore, and it's that demeanor that shows itself on the road? Either way, that's for a social experimentalist to figure out. Here, we're calling it as we see it.
And "it" has gotten so bad (not even mentioning the crime-related activities), that government officials, at a point not so long ago, were even considering installing a speed-limiter on all vehicles that leave showrooms, forever binding them to a pace of 110km/h or below to try and curb the high death rate Malaysia has on its roads.
But what is it exactly that we do on the road that’s so terrible? Let us count the ways with these seven selfish and dangerous ways.
Tailgating, a.k.a. “Cucuk-ing”
THE PROBLEM: There’s no excusing this one, is there? Drivers that tailgate do it with full knowledge and control of their actions, and it can’t be any more stupid to do (lacking courtesy, example one). Tailgating simply involves one vehicle following another far too closely for comfort or time enough to react to any sudden changes, often at high speeds too.
Reasons for tailgating are simple enough to understand: as the car behind, usually a road-bully, tails the vehicle ahead very closely, “cucuking” their bumpers to intimidate them out of the way.
Fair point, given the existence of right-lane hoggers/ crawlers (something we’ll address in the next point), but we’ve seen the disastrous results of tailgating-gone-wrong far too often to know better. One momentary lapse of attention, one late reaction by any of the involved drivers, and you’re never going to have enough time to get on the brakes quickly enough to avoid a crash or worse.
THE SOLUTION: If you must get past someone that’s hogging the overtaking lane, there’s no point putting your own life in danger. Be smart, be patient. Flashing your high-beams is a more polite way to inform the car ahead of your presence, and signalling to the right often helps others understand your plans. If they still don’t get it, toot your horn once to help them notice – hopefully then they’ll make way. If that still doesn’t work, be even more patient. One mistake, and it’s the lives of you and your loved ones at stake. Getting a dash-cam and shaming the lane-hogger (or tailgater) on social media can also be quite entertaining. Carlist.my is ever ready to help you promote it too.
Here's one other reason you may want to follow another car too closely:
Hogging The Right/ Overtaking Lane
THE PROBLEM: One of the main reasons for tailgaters to do what they do comes from drivers that misuse the overtaking lane (right-most), hogging it for no good reason. If you haven’t been briefed yet, the right-most lane is, by law, the overtaking lane – not the “fast” lane.
THE SOLUTION: Here’s how you use it: Driving on a highway at 100km/h, in the middle lane, should you encounter someone doing 95km/h on it ahead of you, approach, pull out to the right, overtake, and get back to the middle lane when you’re done.
Now, no law will change the fact that sometimes, you will stay on the right-most lane to get past a long stretch of slower drivers, and that’s okay, so long as you maintain a good awareness of your surroundings and move over in time to let others pass you.
If or not other drivers use it to exceed the legal speed limit is well beyond your control. As a safe, responsible driver, it’s your job to keep you, yours and everyone around you safe. And that sometimes means staying away from morons who abuse the road.
Failing To Understand What Red, Yellow and Green Traffic Lights Mean
Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? It’s probably one the first things you learn as a toddler, riding around in cars: Go on green, slow on yellow, stop on red. But you and I both know what those colours really mean in Malaysia, don’t we?
- Green: The world is the way it should be
- Yellow: Speed the hell up
- Red: “Can la, can la, can la…”
Unfortunately, maintaining this understanding is what will eventually get you in a dangerous crash, and more devastatingly, one that involves other innocent motorists. Too many Malaysian drivers have a habit of beating a red light in order to avoid getting stalled behind one (again with the ‘me-first’ attitude), and too many times have we seen massive accidents (let alone deaths) come from it. With motorcycles typically maintaining the front line at a traffic light, they’re usually the first to fall victim, and also the least protected.
And it’s not just at speed. Some motorist do it amidst a traffic crawl, and then cause more of a problem when they’re stuck, blocking other lanes from their turns at moving along on green.
So, even if you’ve got no consideration for your own life, try to spare a thought for other motorist who do, and abide by the original set of rules.
Texting & Driving: Or Worst, Gaming & Driving
THE PROBLEM: Fiddling with your mobile phones while driving? Come on, we should know better than that, shouldn’t we? Well, apparently, we don’t. If talking to someone over your mobile phone is distracting enough, what more fiddling with a touchscreen, trying to put together sentences you’d normally fumble anyways while doing absolutely nothing else.
Driving while using your mobile phones takes your eyes and attention away from the road. And to think that others can’t spot you hiding your phone on your lap is silly – good drivers pay attention to other drivers and what they’re paying attention to. The simple fact is that countless accidents are caused by inattentive drivers, regardless of their current speed.
THE SOLUTION: If it’s a text message (usually is, if not a game – we’ve actually seen that) that absolutely requires your immediate attention, pull over, do what you need to, and then go back to driving. If it’s a navigation app that you’re trying to configure, do it before you drive off and use a gadget mount to clamp your device to your windscreen. As if we really need to be telling you these things…
Car makers spend endless amounts of time and resources to help drivers keep their eyes ahead and focused on the road while they drive (placement of display screens, head-up display systems, etc.), and here we are, thinking we know better by putting our phones over our laps and turning our gazes away from the road. Genius. Here’s a look at your life should you keep that up: WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC CONTENT.
The above example is something this writer witnessed personally, where at a crossroad flowing traffic past breakfast time on a Sunday morning, two drivers had conveniently left their vehicles there, and were nowhere to be seen for more than an hour. They were there from the time we had arrive to have our dim sum, and were still there after we had left.
THE PROBLEM: Rather than actually take the time to find a proper parking space, double-parking is something many Malaysian drivers resort to – parking their cars behind another parked vehicle in a proper spot. Most times, drivers who do this believe that their actions aren’t causing any harm to anyone, and are under the impression that they can get in and our of wherever they’re going clean and quick.
THE SOLUTION: Keep in mind that everything you do on the road has a strong influence on what others do around you. Double-parking shrinks a particular lane’s available space down and blocks someone in – what if that someone who took the time to park properly had an emergency they had to rush to, and your car was in their way? Would you appreciate being in their shoes?
The only known solution to double parking is to avoid doing it entirely.
Impulsive Manoeuvres: Sudden Swerving
Stemmed from the above point of having no consideration for those around you, impulsive and sudden driving manoeuvres can be more lethal on the road. Remember, every move you make with your vehicle greatly influences those around you to react in response to your actions – familiar with the butterfly effect?
THE PROBLEM: So, you initially intended to make an exit off the LDP highway to SS22, but was thinking about what’s for dinner, and forgot to move over to the left lane to prepare to exit. Now, you’re on the right-most lane, looking like you’re going to miss your turn. Impulsiveness takes over; you swing to the left, jumping across two lanes at once just to get to dinner on time, forgetting about everything else that you risked just now.
THE SOLUTION: Given that this act is probably one of the most selfish, inconsiderate, things you could do on the road, do try to avoid any and all impulsive decisions behind the wheel - make this the first thought that crosses your mind in the brief moment before you react. Yes, you’d miss your exit, but not only would you be putting yourself in danger by doing it, you’d be putting everyone else around you in danger as well.
Stay put, remember to focus on your route next time, and pay attention to where you’re going. There’s always another turn up ahead, or a u-turn that you could use. And don’t go trying to reverse your way back just to catch the exit.
Leaving Your Headlamps on High Beams
At night, when it’s hard enough to see things with all the lights flashing, having someone behind you drive with their high beams on consistently and blinding you is probably the last thing anyone needs.
THE PROBLEM: Unfortunately, the above happens more often than we’d like, and it’s often caused by pure carelessness – you switch on your high beams to see through a darker stretch of road where the street lamps are weak (or not existent) and no one’s around. You drive out of said area, and forget to turn them off. Another instance for this happening is when you’re just being mean, and want those ahead of your to move away.
THE SOLUTION: Always be mindful of your instrument panel, even more so at night, to pay best attention to your vehicle’s status. Just as much as this could happen to you, you could be doing it to someone else without knowing. Distracting the car ahead of you with blinding lights puts yourself in danger too: with the driver ahead focused on your beams, they aren’t as focused as they should be on the road, and if they slam the brakes for whatever reason, it will be you next to follow.
Also, do have your headlamps’ angles/ direction checked from time to time. Fitting aftermarket units (even the stock ones, sometimes), an installer can sometimes make the mistake of leaving them out of position and facing too high. This doesn’t only irritate drivers ahead of you; it doesn’t provide the optimum illumination of the road you need.
And that’s not all…
We’re quite sure that there are far more deadly points to go around, which we haven’t highlighted yet - street racing, driving too fast around neighbourhoods, not giving pedestrians the right of way at crossings, so on.
These items are of course the worst of the bunch we encounter very regularly, and would love to hear from you about what bothers you on the road. Write to us, tell us what you think in the comments, we’re listening.
Most of all, be sure to send this to a friend. Too many people get on the road every day without knowing any better – you can thank our driving education system for that – but simple tips like these go a long way. In the end, it’s about being safer on the roads and making it a less hectic and stressful environment to be in.