A Zebra Crossing in Malaysia is just that, if you hadn’t noticed it already. They’re for zebras. Not us.
On the highways anywhere civilised, there are three lanes. The slow lane is the left-most lane, the fast-lane is the center lane, and the overtaking lane is the one right-most. This is not true in Malaysia. The fast-lane is the left-most; the slow-lane is the center lane, while the right-most lane can sometimes be the slow-lane too. In Malaysia, there is a dedicated overtaking lane that is called elsewhere, the hard-shoulder.
In urban areas, similarly there are thoroughfares that have three lanes. However, one lane, the left most, is a dedicated parking space, the lane next to it is for waiting. Only one lane is for vehicle traffic. There is no waiting lane if the road is a double-carriageway.
Traffic lights. A typical traffic light would signal the following:
Red – traffic facing the light has to stop.
Yellow – caution, because the light is going to change to red (or green, depending on which country you are in)
Green – Proceed, if cleared of other traffic.
In Malaysia, this differs slightly:
Red – stop, unless you are a motorcyclist, or you have to rush like 13 million others.
Yellow – this is the light that comes on after green. Proceed as per normal.
Green – proceed unless clear. But watch out for the traffic coming from the left or right.
And of course, those Yellow Boxes located at traffic light junctions? Those are part of the “Beautify Your Roads” campaign by the respective local councils. If at any one time you thought that it meant “Keep Clear,” you’re gravely wrong.
Speed Limit. If you see signs along the highways saying “110“, that’s the minimum speed limit in kilometers. The same goes for those little blue-framed stickers at the back of express buses: minimum 80 kmh on normal roads, and minimum 90 kmh for highways. Therefore, if you find an express bus tailgating you and flashing his beam at you, you’re hogging the lane. Get the fuck off that lane!
Indicator Signals. To make car models more competitive, most vehicles in Malaysia are sold WITHOUT indicator signals. Brake lights are sufficient for you to know that the car in front of you is either braking, or wanting to turn off the road. A cheaper model would even do away with brake lights altogether. These car drivers employ the use of finger-signals to replace the need for indicators.
In the UK, drivers are taught to indicate that you want to turn, about 200 meters from where you intend to turn, then brake gently while changing down your gear (if you are driving a manual-gear car). In Malaysia, brake hard, then indicate your intention. This applies to both trunk roads and highways. You will find that the car ahead of you will go from 190kmh to 5kmh in under 3 seconds, and he will make that turn, then indicate his intention. At other times, if that fails, be prepared to take evasive action as he comes to a full stop, go into reverse, then indicate his intention to turn.
Overtaking. Here you are, doing 110kmh on the overtaking lane, then a car swerves from the left lane into your lane ahead of you, while maintaining his speed of 70kmh. In this case, if you slam into his rear, you are at fault. In the UK, you are taught to be at least as fast as, if not faster than the car into whose lane you will be entering: be that while overtaking another vehicle, or if you are turning into a main road at a junction.
Kerb-side. And if you think the kerb is for you to walk on, think again. Kerbs are also for motorcyclists. And if you get banged by a motorcycle, you will be at fault. They have a road tax, you don’t. Another use for kerbs is parking. This is for people who are well enough to buy a motorcycle or a car, but do not make enough to pay for parking.
And if you find a madman driving faster than the minimum speed limit on the kerb, it could be me.
So, you expats who are new to this country: you have been warned! It would be safer for you here to become a zebra if you want to cross the roads.