10 ways to spot a Malaysian Driver

Malaysian drivers are one-of-a-kind and a unique breed altogether, hiding behind the 4 wheels. Malaysian drivers are easily identifiable on the road anywhere in the world! There are a few signs that make Malaysian drivers stand out on the road, and here they are:


1. The power of ‘The Hand’

Do you know that our hand is pretty almighty in Malaysia? Our hands are like the guard house’s access cards for entry into condos, gestures to say thank you on the road as well as the power to put a car to stop on the road!

It is so common to see jay-walkers who use their hands to force a car to stop for them to cross the busy roads. Have you ever used the force of ‘The Hand’ to stop a car while crossing the road? I bet you had!


2. Yellow light means ‘CHARGED!’

Generally, red light means to stop, green light means to go and amber (also known as yellow light) rightfully means ‘slow down and get ready to stop’. However, that is not how it works for Malaysians!

Whenever Malaysian drivers see the traffic lights turn yellow, they use every muscle in their leg to jam onto the accelerator to make sure they speed pass the traffic lights right before it turns red! Although it is not legally wrong, we are supposed to slow down, not accelerate!


3. Multi-tasking while driving

Malaysian drivers are always on-the-go. We are often so occupied with things we have to do in life. We just have to keep our hands busy, including the time when we are driving on the road! There is just no time to waste!

While driving, there is always so much time for many other things to do. Driving while eating that tau fu fah, texting our friends, talking on the phone, etc. While this is a trait and habit of Malaysian drivers, we should be mindful that this is dangerous for both road users and ourselves alike.


4. Turn signal light means ‘kindly accelerate’

We all know how important signal lights are on the road as it tells other drivers where we are about to move to, so that the other drivers may adjust their speed to accommodate accordingly.

Ever wonder why Malaysian drivers seldom or even rarely use the signal lights despite its importance? In Malaysia, whenever we put on the signal lights, drivers on the lane that you intend to move into tend to speed up to close the gap or block us from going in front of them. So annoying right? Even so, please continue to practice the habit of using the signal lights!


5. What are speed limits?

Different speed limits are set for different areas and segments of the road, depending on the road conditions (bumpy and windy roads) and high risk areas (e.g. schooling areas). They are there to make sure drivers do not drive too fast and put road users at risk of accidents.

The Road Transport Act of Malaysia states that a driver who exceeds a speed limit “shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one thousand ringgit”. However, most Malaysian drivers tend to take advantage of the lack of reinforcement on speed limits at no-camera zones. Not guilty till you are caught, eh?


6. Flashing headlights to signal about ‘hidden police’

Ever seen people flashing madly at you from the other side of the road, especially on highways? Do you know that these are friendly drivers who are giving you warnings about the ‘danger’ that lurks ahead?


You can count on Malaysian drivers to flash their headlights like a stroboscope to alert everyone else on the other side of the road about ‘hidden police’ who are hidden under the bridge or behind polls who are out there to catch drivers who go over the speed limit. If you see someone flashing madly from the other side of the road, be sure not to ignore and start slowing down!


7. Hanging plastic bags in the car

In every Malaysian’s car, you will see hooks behind the headrest of their cars. They are there for very important reasons and are often very well utilised!

Whenever we tapao (e.g. take-away food) or do grocery shopping, we will be sure to hang our food and groceries on those hooks! For some Malaysians, we even hang these plastic bags over our dock locks too!


8. Shielding our car mirrors

Malaysia is a country with only one season – SUMMER! It is always too hot under the sun. As much as we love ourselves, we Malaysian drivers love our car as much too!

To make sure the sun does not heat up our cars too quickly, we shield our car from the sun with the hottest products in the market, the sun shades! We will be sure to spare at least a few of those in our cars to cover up our cars before we get off our cars!


9. Yellow boxes are meant to be stopped on

Yellow boxes are meant to be segments of the road that all drivers should keep clear while being in line of a traffic on the road. They are there to ensure other drivers can continue to turn into intersections of the road where the yellow boxes are while cars are waiting to move at the traffic lights.

Ironically, these yellow boxes seem to have a mysterious force that draws Malaysian drivers to stop on them when lining up in front of a red traffic light. That is the beginning of yet another road congestion due to our ignorance of the yellow boxes. Hello, CANNOT!


10. Emergency lanes are express lanes

Emergency lane means express lanes to most Malaysian drivers and that lane is often exploit to escape the heavy traffic during peak hours. However, emergency lanes should be kept cleared at all times as they are meant for emergencies only, as its name suggests!

The Malaysian Fire Department urged all Malaysian drivers to stay clear of the emergency lanes as they obstruct the way of rescuers en route to an accident. A RM300 fine is a small fee to pay for the unethical use of the emergency lane. Please be respectful of the lives of the others and stay clear!


How Malaysian are you as a driver? Did you have most, if not all, of the above characteristics that we have shared? Share with your friends and have a good laugh while learning what’s right and wrong!