In conjunction with my last article where I wrote about the Malaysian new driving curriculum for new drivers, I would like to raise the question of why Malaysian drivers are considered as poor drivers.

There exists many reasons why foreigners regard Malaysians as the world worst drivers. If we should make an in depth study why we Malaysian drivers are regarded as such, some of the reasons must surely be:

1) Malaysian drivers possess poor discipline.

Poor discipline has time and again led motorists to ignore rules and regulations.

For example, even though faced with a red traffic light, there are some who choose to ignore it and beat the traffic light instead. The consequences of such actions have been time and time again reported to have been dire.

2) Some Malaysian drivers do not seem to respect traffic lights.

Again, due to poor discipline, drivers and motorcyclists tend to ignore traffic lights. Elsewhere in another article, I have gave examples whereby some motorists perpetually ignore traffic lights.

At traffic lights, observe carefully and you’ll discover 2 to 4 of those who are waiting at the traffic lights will eventually shoot off after waiting for quite some time. This indicates impatience.

Impatience at traffic lights is dangerous. Accidents can easily happen quite often. Motorists are advised to ponder carefully regarding this factor.

3) Overtaking on the left side of the road.

Overtaking on the left is not encouraged because it is dangerous. But Malaysian drivers seem to adopt this manner of driving. When tutoring students how to drive, I have time and again come across people who overtake on the left.

Just recently, an Indian motorcyclist overtook my female student suddenly on the left. I was shocked and appalled by what had happened. And the above motorcyclist had the audacity to raise his hand into the air as if in show of his disgust, when we nearly knocked into him.

In reality, the motorcyclist himself was at fault for overtaking on the left side in the first place. We were not at fault. It was the motorcyclist who was in reality at fault. He overtook us on the left!

4) Excessive speeding.

Although there is a national speed limit in Malaysia, nevertheless, this speed is unfortunately not followed too rigidly. For foreign readers consumption, trunk roads, for example, Klang to Kuala Lumpur, the maximum speed limit allowed is 80 km/h and 90 km/h. Expressways, which usually connects states, like the North-South expressways from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, for example, has a maximum speed limit of 110 km/h.

However, such speed limits are frequently not observed. A friend of mine, Jack, recently told me he drove a Perdana V6 going at 140 km/h. The above is only one classic example of people ignoring speed limits in the country.

5) Not stopping at junctions.

Many Malaysian drivers and motorcyclists have a tendency not to stop at junctions. More so when it is a junction where no traffic lights are installed. Even though there is a “stop, look, go” sign.

From observations made by me over a period of more than 40 years of tutoring students how to drive, I have arrived at a conclusion whereby most motorists come to a junction and straight away fail to stop at such junctions.

Due to impatience, drivers fail to stop. And instead of giving way to traffic, these drivers will instead shoot off straight into the road ahead and right into the path of on coming cars.

Such manner of driving can very easily cause accidents. If only all drivers, faithfully do their duty of stopping at junctions, then driving in Malaysia would be a dream and I am sure that the rate of accidents in our country would be greatly reduced.

6) Not wearing helmets as required by law.

Although there is a law which requires motorcyclists and its pillion riders to wear helmets, sad to note that especially in kampung areas or remote areas, people seem to ignore this ruling. Most motorcyclists do not bother to don helmets as required by the law. This has resulted in many deaths amongst motorcycle riders and its pillion.

The government on its part has launched many campaigns to encourage the public to use helmets. In one recent helmet campaign, a total of 135,000 Sirim approved helmets were given away to motorcyclists as an exchange for old and worn out helmets.

7) Failure to use indicators and signals when turning.

The use of signals and indicators when turning is essentially very important. What I have observed all these years is that Malaysian drivers and motorists fail to use these 2 items fully.

If only signals and indicators are used to its maximum capacity, then I feel that the number of accidents in the country can be easily be reduced.

8) Overtaking at double lines.

Overtaking at double lines is strictly disallowed. As such, no drivers should ever envisage to overtake at such places. Observations made by me over the years, surprisingly indicate that Malaysian drivers fail to adhere to this particular requirement.

Non adherence to this particular aspect of the law can go on to cause many accidents in our country.

9) Failure to stop at pedestrian crossings.

In Singapore, where failure to stop at pedestrian crossings is a serious violation of traffic laws, in Malaysia, unfortunately, motorists who choose not to stop at a pedestrian crossing are not dealt with as seriously as their counterparts in Singapore.

Unless and until Malaysian drivers are willing to change their mindset over giving way to pedestrian at pedestrian crossings, we will unfortunately continue to see violations at such crossings for a long time to come.

The above are 9 of the most common traffic violations committed by Malaysian drivers as well as motorcyclists.
These are violations observed by me over the years.

The Road Transport Department admits that a few things have gone wrong in our system. For one, poor enforcement unfortunately has to be said to be one of the causes. If enforcement had been effective, this will instill fear in motorists and they will not violate laws. This is why new learner drivers have to be educated accordingly so that they will become better drivers.

Another manner in which Malaysia drivers and motorcyclist can be trained as better drivers is through safety campaigns. Such campaigns must go on, even though they have been seen as not being effective enough.

Finally, the government wants those who are responsible for the above campaigns to be “people friendly” and accessible to the public.

I look forward to the launching of the new driving curriculum which will be introduced very shortly to the Malaysian public. Its aim as reiterated is a move to produce more law abiding, courteous and competent drivers.

Will our country succeed in our quest with the new driving curriculum? Even though it is believed “you are what you are”, nevertheless, an attempt can be made nonetheless. Who knows, anything can happen. We may very well succeed in our attempt!

By | 2020-08-10T15:49:16+08:00 August 6th, 2020|Driving In Malaysia|25 Comments

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  1. Sarah August 18, 2010 at 11:40 am - Reply

    A few weeks ago, I had a driving lesson on the road. When I reached a junction, I stopped. However, another car at the back started to honk me like crazy. Is it my fault I want to be safe? After all it is the rule I have to learn and follow. I guess some people just don’t know that they are not supposed to honk at a “L” driver or maybe they are being ignorant.

    • Cikgu Yap August 19, 2010 at 11:57 am - Reply

      There are all sorts of drivers. Just ignore them. Drive carefully and follow the rules.

  2. Joel Fitzgerald October 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Whilst I agree that these points are a good start, these are not the major reasons why I consider Malaysians the worst drivers in Asia. How about these:

    1) Driving down the wrong side of the road, into oncoming traffic to then push in in front a few cars ahead.

    2) Driving the wrong way down the freeway because they realise they don’t have enough money to pay the toll.

    3) Every second person is on their mobile phone, and I’m not exaggerating

    4) Lane discipline. Drivers in Malaysia do not seem to realise that the lines on the road are lanes to stick to, no lines to be placed down the middle of the car.

    5) Illegal parking. In Penang Double, Triple and even quadruple parking is a State sport as is illegal parking generally, this often means that cars, to get past have to drive on the wrong side of the road.

    I’m not sure what the Police do in Malaysia, but it’s not traffic enforcement, sure they make sure that cars have paid their road tax/registration ( I get checked once a week usually, on the way to or from work) but they don’t seem to care about anything else. On the corner of the street where I live, we regularly have a police “booth” set up and take I saw a car parked illegally on a yellow line in front of them, and then a car double parked next to them, blocking traffic, and what did the police officer do?..Nothing.

    Malaysia start enforcing the law, start finning people and start an education program and stop wondering why you have the highest road death rate of any ASEAN country!

    Frustrated Ex-Pat

    • Cikgu Yap October 2, 2010 at 9:53 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your keen observation. Your sharing with us the things you mentioned are very useful. Agreed, the police should improve their services to the public overall.

  3. ih October 13, 2010 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    I totally agree with you.. but from my point of view, yes there’s a national speed limit. In real life, there’s law and convention. Law is something that is rigid and certainly has legal values, and must be followed strictly. But convention itself is a custom, also of legal in nature, but is more based on mutual understanding and custom of the people.

    Yes, there is a speed limit. And yes, you have to agree that we have an overtaking lane, which is the right lane.The speed limit is a law. Whilst the overtaking lane is a convention. It doesn’t mean that driving just at the speed limit at the most right lane is the rightful thing to do, as it is a violation of our country’s road traffic convention. As it harms other driver who are overtaking, and had no choice but to do so using the left lane, because of some IDIOTS hogging the right lane. You as a driving instructor, should know why is there a sign saying “ikut kiri jika tidak memotong” being erected. This is to facilitate to the convention. So, it’s our task, and your job to tell the people, if the car behind you is going faster than you, with all due respect go to the left lane, because he’s about to overtake you.

    Road hogging is much dangerous than driving fast, as you will certainly cause the driver behind you to brake abruptly. Road hoggers never thought of whether the driver behind them might be in an emergency (who knows). I bet you have seen before, where an idiot would adhere to the speed limit, thus causing several cars behind him to tailgate each other, and finally had no choice but to overtake from the left, which is dangerous. Do you even know why is overtaking from the left is dangerous? It is because, the driver you are about to overtake, hardly sees you, as there are more blind spots at the left-side of the car. That’s why, your student almost hit the motorcyclist

    So if you think that safety is the number on priority. Stop road hogging. Yes, speed does kills. But denying them them the right to overtake from the right lane is much more dangerous, as you can’t see him because of the blind spot, and it will also be hard for driver to know whether is there a car on the left lane, as he can’t see them because the driver seats at the right-side of the car. And tailgating is also dangerous. So we can eliminate all this, by not hogging the road.

    My advice is, to have total respect to other road user.

    • Cikgu Yap October 17, 2010 at 7:30 am - Reply

      Sorry to say you seem to have misunderstood the essence of the above article. The instructor was in reality in a town area, where the maximum speed is supposed to be not more than 50 km/h. It was not a 3 or 4 lane highway when the motorcyclist overtook me on the left. The question of road hogging therefore never arose at all.

    • Paula November 28, 2015 at 1:00 pm - Reply

      This comment from “IH” about why people should be allowed to speed is a common belief in Malaysia and according to all research is likely the reason so many people die on Malaysian roads. Every time I visit I end up having a close call because someone is doing something seemingly insane, usually involving speeding, driving on the wrong side of the road or driving at a pedestrian. I personal know people effected by road deaths in Malaysia. I limit my time there now, it is just too dangerous. I feel safest in a large vehicle because people don’t try to intimidate those in large vehicles as much. In the fast lane people drive at 140 to 150kms/hr in old cars with little saftey features. These drivers are seeming clueless at the danger if something goes wrong. Sigh

  4. Simon Yee February 14, 2011 at 4:19 am - Reply

    Discipline on the road is poor. but some drivers are blatantly ignorance of rules and also worse think they have God-given rights

    My wife uncle drives a car with an expired road tax plate and did not renew from 2009 until to present day.

    Having said that I would really want to see him in jail and post his license plate on the internet so that he will be aware of and arrest for his road crimes.

  5. Pink March 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    I agree with you !
    Nowdays those motorist their bike do not have any signal and lamp ~
    maybe it have broken
    but they should repair it ASAP~
    This will be extreme dangerous~
    even though they don not want to repair, I assume they are lazy ~
    The should wear night time shirt with shinning color to let car drivers know ~

    • Cikgu Yap March 4, 2011 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      Your observations deserve motorists attention. Thank you.

  6. David williams August 8, 2011 at 12:33 pm - Reply

    I have live & worked in 32 different countries, stretching from South America, North America, Europe, Africa & Asia, to date Malaysia has the worst drivers I have come accross. They are ignorant, arrogant & dangerous, they have little or no respect for other road users & no respect at all for the laws of the road.
    So why is this?
    I know 15 malaysians here that obtained their licence illegally, just paid a fee & no test needed………how many more drive on the roads who did this
    Why abide by the law, if you get stopped, just pay a few ringget & on you go………no problem
    Most drivers here have to get ahead of the car in front, no matter what it takes, what is that all about?
    I feel malaysian drivers are treated unfairly, when you purchase a car in other countries, you get given a list of extras, if you want or need them, then you pay an extra cost. This being said, maybe car manufacturers should offer things like mirrors & indicators as an extra, I’m sure most drivers here whould chose not to have them, after all, they don’t use them.
    Traffic lights, why do cars have to go over the white line at lights, I don’t mean a little, sometimes as mich as two car lengths, making cars passing from the right have to swerve to avoid these idiots.
    I could go on & on, but my few comments will not make a difference, so to those of you who drive within the laws, stay safe & just hope that one of these idiots will not mess your life up one day.

  7. Denise December 26, 2011 at 9:39 am - Reply

    I need help! anyhow hello :)

    I wanted to take Undang test soon, but i have National Service to attend for 3 month.i heard L license only last for 3 month? is it true? how much to renew?
    and is it better for me to take Undang test after my NS?

    • Cikgu Yap December 30, 2011 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Go for your NS first.

  8. Actan January 5, 2012 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Hi, just had a minor accident this evening, the other party has agreed for me to pay her rm50 initially but called me later asking me to pay for her car repair price, her car has minor damaged at the back n front as she bang the other car after I hit her car.

    Do I have to pay for her car repair fit front n back? Or I just need to pay for the back repair, pls advice.

    • Cikgu Yap January 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Pay for her “back” only. She is responsible for her front damage. She was following the car in front too close. Furthermore, her inability to control her car is her own fault, not yours.

  9. Jay March 15, 2012 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    hello cikgu yap, i can conclude from your article that you certainly follow the rules…. and i am glad… but here i just want to declare my self retired of following the rules anymore :) since i got my P license almost 2 years ago, i have driven by the rules 90% of the time except for berhenti sign i just slow down… and signalling corners or changing lanes i have not miss it so far except if got confused …. and today starting from 15/3/2012 i will stop signalling… i will drive like mabuk on the road, cut lanes and honk at people when i want to :) cikgu, i am just too tired of these monsters…. all same useless piece of community… 2 days ago i saw a jpj patrol car cut lane without signalling… so that concludes that even law it self doesn’t care… well Cikgu, i hope you will continue to be strict to your students and always warn them to obey the law.. because only that can change the way they drive…

    • Cikgu Yap March 18, 2012 at 10:09 am - Reply

      First of all, I should commend you for driving so meticulously all these while. I understand your frustrations with regards to Malaysian drivers’ antics. But for you to suddenly convert to being a driver who does not abide by rules and regulations, will not only bring dismay to other drivers but yourself as well.

      If I may, I would like to appeal to you to consider your decision again. Malaysia needs careful and law abiding motorists like you. It would indeed be a great loss should you decide to convert to driving dangerously. Think about it carefully. I hope you’ll heed my advice.

  10. jack March 21, 2012 at 11:04 am - Reply


    Im a french driver living in KL and have one question and nobody seems to have the answer:

    what is the “right of way” rule at a junction when theres in no sign ? who is supposed to give way ?

    is this rule written somewhere ?


    • Cikgu Yap March 23, 2012 at 8:12 pm - Reply

      In a T-junction, the vehicle approaching a major road ahead, should ideally stop and give way to traffic either from the left or the right. Likewise, traffic intending to come into the minor road should be accorded the right of passage too. Another rule followed is, always give the right of way to the traffic which is on the right hand side of you. Therefore, the maxim seems to be, give priority to the right always. Traffic on the right, should always proceed first.

  11. William Phang April 12, 2012 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    People in Malaysia are monsters when they drive, YIELD means “CHAAARGE”.
    Suddenly zipping into people’s lane. Total disregard for other else on the road, they think they are the ONLY IMPORTANT people suing the road.
    Driving dangerously is a sign of bravery for them. Watching too much of those FAST & FURIOUS movies.
    The problem with today’s teen glorifying society where wrong is the new right, The cool attitude is the “Aaaah don’t care” (comes in all languages). Manners come as a shocking pleasant surprise, Bad attitude is promoted by the media is comon, and when they get behind the wheel, their reckless behavior is magnified. They feel protected and empowered in their vehicle.
    I TRULY HATE driving in Kuala Lumpur. Driving in Kuala Lumpur exposes the disgusting ugliness of human beings, I have no more heart to give anything to charity…they give humanity a sinking bad name.
    If you are driving alone…and you are smiling, it must be because you are on drugs or you have mental disorder. The joy of driving is to NOT drive in Kuala Lumpur.

    • Cikgu Yap April 13, 2012 at 12:12 am - Reply

      Yes, you are right. It’s no more fun driving in Malaysia.

  12. momo May 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    How about those drivers that drives extremely slow and hogs the right lane instead of the left lane?

    • Cikgu Yap May 26, 2012 at 10:49 am - Reply

      I hope such drivers will realise their fault and rectify their weaknesses.

  13. Mr Tan July 11, 2012 at 8:10 am - Reply

    I believe everything goes back to basic education and up-bringing. When fathers or mothers drive ‘idiotically’ or ‘inconsiderably’, children or the following generation tends to follow. Further more, young drivers tend to re-act what they’ve seen in movies or video games.

    One major consistent defect of Malaysian drivers is ‘curtesy’. Many are either too ‘idiotic’ or just plain ignorant about driving etiquette. It is true that this goes back into an individuals understanding of different values but there must be a mutual consensus between the drivers such as “Who has the right of the way”

    They government should improvise longer training hours for those taking driving and parents should give more attention to these things and show a better example of proper driving.

    Forgive me for my grammar.

    • Cikgu Yap July 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Firstly, your command of English is of remarkable standard. I agree fully with courtesy being the cause of poor driving amongst us. It is hoped the authorities will implement longer training periods for new drivers. Parents must also show better examples.

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