25 January 2006

Dummies Guide to Malaysian Driving

Malaysia is well known around the world for a number of things. Petronas Twin Towers, the food, the islands on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, the Malaysian driver, the verdant, lush forests in Taman Ne…. Hold it right there. Malaysian driver?

Yes, the Malaysian driver is right up there as one of the most famous Malaysian icons. While we’re no where close to those in India in terms of blatant ignorance of traffic laws, and we’re not merely as aggressive as the cab drivers in New York, we’re pretty much up there.

Now, tis’ the season of mass vehicular migration in Malaysia. This twice annual migration, which coincides with the Hari Raya and Chinese New Year, is a time frought with peril and danger. If not that silly driver who keeps driving at 30 km/h on a highway, it’s Mat Polis Trafik with his speed gun. It’s just dangerous, which is why you should be aware of the rules of survival on the Malaysian Road:

The Big Car has Right of Way

On Malaysian roads, right of way is really determined by size. At the bottom of the food chain are the motorbikes, followed by carts cars such as Kancil, then the Satria, and you work your way up to pick up trucks. But carts cars are mere mortals on the road. Drive an express bus or a shipping container lorry. Now you rule to road.

Going uphill? Top speed only 40 km/h? Some more spewing black toxic fumes? Fear not, you can still overtake with confidence on a two lane highway. If cars get stuck behind you, tough luck. If they really don’t like you, they are welcome to try and nudge your rear end. I’m sure common sense big car will prevail.

Speed Limit is a Suggestion

To the average Malaysians, the speed limit on the road merely serves as a suggestion. It’s like the pictures you see on the Maggi Mee packaging. Read the fine line and you’ll see a disclaimer that goes: *Serving Suggestion. With their super duper zoom vision that can pick up things others don’t, they can see the fine line appearing on the speed limit signboards. Yes, that’s right, folks, there’s a little disclaimer that says: *Speed Suggestion Only.

That’s why so many of us actually never follow the speed limit. To some, it’s actually the minimum speed to drive.

Next time you’re on the road, slow down every time you drive past a speed limit sign. You might just read it. Not kidding - really can see one.

Malaysians are excellent multitaskers

While our productivity isn’t exactly a hallmark of Malaysians, we are not slouches either, you know. That Malaysians are excellent multitaskers is none more evident when you look into the typical Malaysian driver.

Driving while discussing the latest big issue on sms chat, telling your dahling you will be late, checking the 4D results slip you just bought at the last traffic light and finding that &^(% 20 sen coin you dropped under your seat WHILE driving is the minimum a qualified Malaysian driver can do. Some even find time to make up lost time with their girlfriend/boyfriend and update their blogs while driving.

With such advanced brain functions, it is a surprise to many why Malaysians don’t spend more of their time and life in their car. Probably coz most of them have cars that are falling apart.

Flyover/Bridges/Pedestrian Bridges means SLOW DOWN

It’s somewhat amazing the government spends so much money on Safe Driving campaigns, when the most effective speed limiting mechanism has been around for ages. It’s called a flyover/bridge/pedestrian bridge. My driving instructor told me, my dad told me, my best friends still tell me and my mum swears by it.

A flyover is actually a really big speed limit signboard. An effective one too. If you’re going 250 km/h on the NS highway, it’s actually perfectly legal. As long as you don’t see a flyover/bridge/pedestrian bridge, that is. Imagine the typical Malaysian driver:

The moment you can see one far, far way in the horizon, automatic reflexes will kick in. At this moment, the Malaysian driver will register danger. Sighting of flyover/bridge/pedestrian bridge now confirmed. Car speed: 225 km/h.

By now, you can make out the advertisements on the flyover/bridge/pedestrian bridge. Then the brain sends a signal to the driver’s leg. The leg immediately goes off the gas pedal. It takes just a split second, and before you know it, car speed: 180 km/h already.

The leg will then press the brake paddle. Car slows down. Car speed: 150 km/h.

You hit the magic speed: 105 km/h just before you get to the speed limit sign board flyover/bridge/pedestrian bridge.

If the Malaysian driver doesn’t see a policeman with a speed gun, he cusses the missed opportunity. Damn, could have been 200 metres further down the road you know. That roughly translates into 15 seconds earlier arrival.

If the Malaysian driver sees a policeman with a speed gun, he expresses relive and makes a silent promise to go to the nearly place of worship. And ask for 4D, since it’s a lucky day today.

One Man’s Accident is Another’s Opportunity

In Malaysia, the accident is a spectacle. Now, we feel for those caught in one, we feel for them when they wreck their car. That’s why there is a traffic jam in every known direction when an accident happens. Foreigners sometimes think that Malaysians are a nice lot, people who emphatize and are concerned for their fellow Malaysians. Yeah, right.

Actually, it’s all about cashing in on accidents. We don’t slow down to feel bad, to reflect on the accident or to even spare a single cycle of thought about the accident. Who are you kidding, man? It’s all about 4D … we just wanna see if the number plates are in any way visible to the naked eye. But no worry, since Malaysians have super duper zoom vision, they’ll see it, unless, of course, the number plate is broken.

What they fail to see is that if you can really strike it rich via 4D number obtained from an accident source, why all the tow truck operators are still, well, towing?

Now that you’ve read about the Malaysian drivers, take care, drive carefully on your way back to the kampung, and back. Make sure your car is in good condition, make sure you plan your journey, and don’t let your family and friends down la … get home in one piece.

And then come back to leave a comment once CNY is over. :)


Anonymous said...

gahrmen shud build more flyover along the highway then ;)

pelf said...

Hhahah, this is hilarious. But sickeningly TRUE :(

moz monster said...

I heard that in the US, decoy police cars are actually parked along highways to discourage speeding ... hmm ...