For a long time now foreigners who visit our country, have come to the conclusion that Malaysians represent “the world’s worst drivers”. Australian, England and even Singapore, our neighbours in the South, have been renowned as countries where driving licenses are difficult to secure.
A reader of this blog currently studying in Australia, recently wrote into this blog to say that he was coming back to Malaysia for 4 months soon. The above reader had inquired whether it would be possible to get a driving license within that short period of time.
And what did I answer with regards to the above query? Regretfully, my answer to the above inquiry was, definitely YES!
In Malaysia securing a driving or riding license for cars and motorcycles is not only cheap, as compared to other countries, it in fact can be obtained in not only a rather short period of time, but it is also not very costly at all.
For example, a driving license for cars (Class D) and motorcycles (Class B2 to ride a motorbike of less than 250c.c. capacity) can be achieved in not more than 35 or 40 days at the most. To secure a driving license for cars in Malaysia, works out to approximately RM750 to RM1000, inclusive of “L” and “P” licenses these days.
A motorcycle riding license can easily be obtained for as low as RM201, which is a government controlled price all institutes have to adhere to. Do you know that the fee for motorcycle riding license for Class B2 is only RM2 in Malaysia.
As early as in the 1960’s or 70’s, my cousin, Ah Loo, who was then staying in Ang Mo Kio in Singapore, once told me, that to secure a driving license in the island state, was then a big hassle. Can you just imagine what the problem will be to attempt getting a driving license in Singapore today?
I remember vividly my cousin, Ah Loo telling me, that to get an appointment just to sit for the Highway Code exam alone, a potential student had to wait a minimum of at least 2 years. All in all, a driving student in Singapore has to go through a lot of stringent tests, before he or she could lay hands on a driving license.
It is difficult, even quite impossible, as one consider it, for the people of Singapore to get their hands on a driving license. Besides, being expensive, Singapore driving licenses are of a high standard. Even the United Kingdom recognizes it.
Singapore driving licenses are accepted for automatic conversion, sadly, the Malaysian driving license is amongst one of the nations whose license is not accepted for conversion there. There must surely be good reasons for the UK Transport Department not to accept the Malaysian during license down there.
Besides all these facts driving tuition fees in the United Kingdom, is reputed to be quite expensive. According to the Accrington Driving Academy, which quite recently wrote in to this blog to comment on certain of my articles, say, it costs a person E17 an hour for tuition there. The above works out to be approximately RM100 an hour.
In Malaysia, driving schools and institutes charge no more than RM25 an hour only, come to think of it, could price be a factor in determining the quality of drivers which driving academies dish out?
The article which I am writing on today is based upon a comment made recently by a Malaysian transportation expert, Professor Dr. Abdul Rahim Nor, who incidentally is attached the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Social, Development and Environmental School in Kuala Lumpur.
Dr. Rahim is the head of the above department. Dr. Rahim has lamb lustered Malaysian drivers as “having no driving skills at all”. He continues to add, that “some are really not fit and they end up as road nuisance”.
Dr. Rahim, I supposes, must be referring to young and new drivers who have recently obtained their driving licenses. Obviously the above remark was not intended to refer to “all” Malaysian drivers as a whole.
Before we delve more in detail regarding Dr. Rahim’s remarks, let us first and foremost, study what other pertinent things the above professor said about “new” Malaysian drivers. Many drivers, are, in Dr. Rahim’s opinion, not yet ready to drive because they are not even aware if they have the right attitude to be on the road.
New drivers seem to be oblivious to dangers. They feel safe. They, as a matter of fact, escape from accidents became other road users sympathize with them. They are accorded way despite the fact that they are breaking many rules on the road.
According to statistics on road accidents, road accidents have increased drastically by 4%, from 397,330 in 2009 to 414,421 last year, inspite of advices and reminders to drivers to drive carefully. The number of casualties have also increased tremendously.
To solve the above frightening situation, experts believe, Malaysia should follow other European countries, the United Kingdom and Australia, where it takes up to 4 years to get a passed driving license. In Australia, for example, a student is expected to attend some 120 hours of lessons before they are given a driving license.
In contrast, in Malaysia, the situation is such that a student can obtain a driving license within 1 to 2 months and then be issued with a provisional or “P” license to drive for 2 years. Even new drivers fail to display the required “P” on their vehicles. It is therefore not surprising that many accidents occur.
Driving accidents in Malaysia, according to surveys and statistics, were said to be caused by amongst other things, carelessness, speeding, driving recklessly, taking unnecessary and dangerous risks. To confront the already headache-causing problem, more than 1 million new vehicles are said to be registered every day in our country.
Experts like Dr. Rahim suggests Malaysia should attempt to produce better quality drivers. To do this, Malaysia should take concrete steps to revise the country’s current driving school industry syllabus. In doing so, it is hoped it would be able to produce drivers who are able to drive properly. This is the only way to eliminate the high rate of accidents taking place in the country today.
Malaysia was said to be saddled with a rate of 13 to 14 deaths per day a few years ago. Today, this figure stands at a staggering 17 or 18 deaths a day.
On top of revamping Malaysia present curriculum for driving, efforts should also be taken to encourage the use of public transport such as buses and trains, even flights. Public transport, are reputed to have a better safety record. This is exactly what is happening in Japan.
Most Japanese, it is reported, do not own cars. Good public transport has made it unnecessary for the majority of Japanese to own vehicles. In 2010, it was reported that there existed only 77 deaths amongst public transport users. Compare this to 1421 with those who travel by vehicles and you will surely be able to comprehend why public transport is the better choice of travel. Among pillion riders and motorcyclist the figure for deaths on the roads amounted to 4036 deaths.
Motorcyclists and pillion riders should therefore be using public transport for their “balik kampong” exodus back to their kampungs instead. “Balik kampung” or going back home to the roots of our places of origin, is a must for most people. It’s a part of our Malaysian way of life. That cannot be denied. But how we go about doing it can certainly be altered. Do Malaysians have to go back home every festive occasion by driving cars and riding motorcycles? We in reality do not.
Think about what I am suggesting. Go home via express buses, trains and taxis and planes instead. Go on, and book your tickets now! Travel home safely by using the public transport that’s available to us today. The newly revamped bus terminal, “Pudu Raya” is now ready and open. The “Pudu Sentral” bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur should be made used of to its fullest capacity. Think about it carefully!
“Balik kampong” by all means. But do it wisely and safely! Go home by express air-con bus today. It’s not only safer. It is also economically cheaper too.