Don't be part of the grim statistics
Be a safe driver as you drive in Malaysia

Just a few weeks ago, news of Singaporean fatalities on Malaysian roads made it to the front page of The Straits Times. And with the school holidays coming, this serves as a timely reminder to families planning a trip across the Causeway to drive safe.

The grim statistics

Figures cited by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) showed that some 30 to 40 Singaporeans lost their lives in accidents in Malaysia every year. Another 50 to 70 are injured in these accidents.

Over half of these accidents take place in the state of Johor, and many of them on highways. However, the statistics do not mean that Johor is the most dangerous place to drive in. It’s just that drivers have to pass through Johor to get further up north to Kuala Lumpur or Perak, so the increased frequency makes it more likely for accidents to happen there.

Some possible reasons for the mishaps are speeding on the highways, unfamiliarity with roads there, or not being used to driving long distances.

Many of the accidents take place because Singaporeans seem more prone to speeding when driving on Malaysian highways, director-general of Miros, Wong Shaw Voon told The Straits Times. Also, some drivers are unfamiliar with high-speed driving and overtaking on smaller roads.

Road experts say many Singaporeans tend to "let loose" on Malaysian roads, in the false belief that there is no speed limit on the highways – or that the chances of getting caught are very low.

The overall speed limit on the North-South Expressway is 110kmh, with the limit on certain dangerous stretches dropping to 80kmh or 90kmh. In contrast, the top speed of Singapore’s expressways is 90kmh.

Malaysia's authorities say they have taken measures to make the country's highways and roads safer by installing signs and improving visibility at accident hot spots and potentially dangerous bends.

Do your part to drive safely

Keep your eyes on the road and avoid distractions like talking on the phone or disciplining the kids.

Long-distance driving is not an endurance race to see how far you can go without stopping. Don’t wait till you’re exhausted to take a break. It’s easy to lose concentration, or worse, doze off when driving on a long, straight road, especially on a hot afternoon after lunch. Load up on caffeine if you need to.

If you are unable to carry on safely, take a break at any of the rest and service areas located every 80 to 100km, with facilities like food stalls, shops, petrol stations, toilets and telephones. There are smaller rest areas with basic facilities like toilets and public telephones.

Certain stretches of road that are higher than the surrounding areas are prone to crosswinds. These stretches will have large orange windsocks to give you an indication of wind direction and strength. If you see windsocks at a 45-degree angle, be aware that your car might start to swerve.

The right-most lane is meant for overtaking. To overtake, turn on your right indicator, check the rear-view mirror to ensure no vehicle is approaching, and check your blindspot before accelerating into the overtaking lane. Get back into the left lane when it is safe.