Driving in Malaysia For Dummies

Whether you’ve just gotten your license or are new to driving on Malaysian roads, you should already know that we make our own rules here. Don’t be intimidated. In conjunction with our upcoming Hari Merdeka (Independence Day), we celebrate what makes us uniquely Malaysian with a quick guide on how to blend in on our pothole-ridden roads.


1. What do you do when you approach a traffic light?

If the light is yellow, go faster to beat the red light.

If the light has already turned red, you can still drive past within the first few seconds.

When the light turns green, keep looking down at your phone until the car behind you honks its horn.



2. What is a zebra crossing for?

Just road decor. You think maybe here is where you should slow down or stop to let pedestrians cross the road, but you’re in more of a hurry than them, so you have right of way.


3. Speaking of pedestrians, why do they hold a hand out at you when crossing in front of your car?

“The Hand” is the most powerful gesture—akin to the Thanos snap—that compels you to stop the car. It is used especially, although not exclusively, when jay-walking. You can then curse the pedestrians for not using the zebra crossing, even though you wouldn’t have given way to them there anyway.

Don’t do this. Public nudity is totally unacceptable in Malaysia and the police WILL arrest you.


4. What does the yellow box mean?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


5. What is a “Jalan Sehala” road?

“One-Way Traffic” but here you can drive in the opposite direction if there is no oncoming car in sight and, based on agak-agak (estimation), you can reach the end of the road before any car turns in.

Some of the braver drivers do it on highways too:


6. What does “Beri Laluan” mean?

“Give Way”. In other parts of the world, it means to slow down and get ready to stop or give way to other vehicles to proceed first. In Malaysia, though, you can stick the nose of your car out over the limit line, forcing the other vehicles to slow down and give way to you instead.


7. What about the “Berhenti” sign then?

It translates to “Stop”, but we respond to it the same as the “Beri Laluan” sign (described above).


8. What do the lines on the road—single or double, broken or sold—indicate?

Not only to indicate separate lanes and whether you can cross over it to other lanes, but the lines also serve as a “special lane” for motorbikes. White-lining (aka lane-splitting) may be incredibly dangerous, but what a waste of road space if not used.

Image source: bikesrepublic.com


9. What kind of emergencies is the Emergency Lane for?

  • When you are desperate to go to the toilet.
  • When you/your wife is in labour.
  • When you are late for work.
  • When you want to go home.
  • When you are late to meet your friends for yum cha/tani/mamak-time/drinks.
  • When your time is more precious than other people’s, which is always.


10. What should you do if there is an ambulance with its sirens blaring?

Make way for it, of course.

And after it passes you, you may join the trail of vehicles behind it, riding its “coattails”.


DISCLAIMER: We’re KIDDING. Well, yes, Malaysians do drive like how we described above, but just because we do it, doesn’t mean it’s right. Drive better than the majority of Malaysians, okay? 


Meanwhile, our sponsor is celebrating Merdeka Day by giving a HUUUGE discount on their products. If you drive in Malaysian traffic, weather and style, your car will certainly need extra care. Visit www.x1rasia.com to enjoy the promo for a limited time only.

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