Peculiar and Dangerous Driving Habits in Malaysia

Malaysia is a country known for its multicultural diversity in race, religion, culture, and not forgetting, the mouth-watering delicacies. But our roads have their own reputation, specifically within the capital city of Kuala Lumpur with its never-ending, bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion. 

For those who grew up in Malaysia, we have all definitely come across different driving habits which can take a dangerous turn.  

Here Are 8 Unique Malaysian Driving Habits

1. The Power of the Hand

Before getting our driver’s license, we are taught to signal manually with our hands when the car’s indicator lights malfunction. These signals are used to indicate if we are turning left, right, or when changing lanes. But in Malaysia, our hands are also used when we show kindness to another driver, pedestrian, or motorist. Some common situations when we would use our hands are:

  • When another driver slows down to give way to your car or when you allow another car to cut into your lane, you or the other driver would carry up their hand as a thank you sign.
  • When a pedestrian wants to cross a busy road, they would carry up their hand to signal oncoming cars to slow down or stop.

2. Any Spot is a Parking Spot

driving habits -- double parking

Any sidewalk in Malaysia, especially nearby banks or shop lots, is a parking spot. Double parking is also a common sight in Malaysia, however, it is advised to put your name and number on your windshield so other drivers can contact you to move your car when required.

3. Busybody Drivers

If something unusual is happening on the road, there would definitely be a traffic jam because Malaysian drivers tend to slow down to view the commotion.  Some even stop the car to take pictures and record videos to be uploaded on social media without realizing the domino effect that we’ve caused. If the accident wasn’t enough to cause traffic, nosy drivers definitely made it worse by slowing down to take a peek. Hence, if you are not stopping to help, please continue driving to avoid contributing to the traffic congestion.

4. Emergency Lane Abusers

There is a reason why emergency lanes are created – for emergencies. Things like rushing home to watch the upcoming football match or when you are late to a client meeting are definitely not an emergency.  The emergency lane should only be used for cars that have broken down and for official authorities like the police, Fire and Rescue Department, and ambulance to move swiftly on highways.  You never know whose life you are putting at risk by blocking the emergency lane from vehicles with real emergencies.

5. Signal Lights & Hazard Light Abusers

We have come across drivers who neglect to use their indicator lights which can be frustrating. Although you may forget to turn on your indicator lights, or what is commonly known as “signal lights”, making it a habit when turning or changing lanes can avoid dangerous car collisions. Practicing safe driving by following the road rules, such as using your car’s indicators, is important as it serves as communication between you and other drivers. Other drivers are not mind readers to know when and where you would make your next turn, so you let them know with the signal lights. Additionally, hazard lights act as a warning to other drivers that you are in the midst of an emergency situation. For example, you can turn it on in the event your car has broken down in the middle of the road or as you pull over on the road shoulder.

6. Impatient Drivers 

driving habits - impatient driver

Your patience is often tested when you come across an impatient driver – most of us would have probably encountered being tailgated or more commonly known as “cucuk’ in Malaysia by a rushing driver or drivers who honk the second the traffic light turns green. Although we may be rushing, it is best to be mindful of other drivers on the road. Practicing a little kindness and patience on the road can go a long way. Not only will you avoid fights, but you can also avoid accidents from happening.

 Remember, the best practice is to distance your car at least two to four seconds from the car in front of you to avoid any form of collision.

7. Roadblock Announcers

There are many reasons for the use of headlights and the official use of them is to improve visibility. Headlights are switched on when it’s getting dark outside, usually from sunset to sunrise or during bad weather conditions such as during a heavy downpour or when passing through a foggy area. But in Malaysia, headlights are also used for a very special reason- no notify drivers on the opposite side of the road of an upcoming or roadblock or speed trap.

However, you should never be flashing your headlights to warn other road users of a speed trap ahead as this is actually illegal and you may get into trouble if you are caught doing so!

8. Steering Wheel Lock Is Also for Protection

A steering wheel lock is a heavy metal rod that stops your steering wheel from moving. This tool is an added protection for your car from theft. While there are many different types of steering wheel locks out there like the enclosed lock, and the wheel-to-pedal-lock, the most common one that can be seen in Malaysian cars is the traditional lock that looks like a baseball bat with hooks at the end. Many Malaysians, especially young, single drivers also use this metal tool as a form of self-defense. It can be used to scare away creeps or perverts from coming and harming you or your car. There are also cases where steering locks were used to make a point during a road rage against other drivers.

Driving Habits: Drive Safely & Courteously For a Better Future

Remember to practice safe driving and be mindful of other drivers.  While we may be guilty of having several of these driving habits, practicing politeness, courteousness, and patience on the road while we drive bring us one step closer to road safety.

Also Read: How to Stay Safe When Driving in The Rain

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