Do you know how to be a safe driver on our Malaysian roads? The answer is by adopting the defensive driving concept used in Australia.

Malaysia is reputedly said to have adopted the above form of driving for its driving schools and institutes all across the country. If something is good, it is not at all wrong for us to initiate it. For there is a saying in the English language which says, “Imitation is the highest form of flattery”.

In Australia, where defensive driving is widely practiced, accidents down there have been reported to have decreased as much as 80%. Just recently, a young reader of this blog wrote in inquiring if I could possibly write an article on defensive driving for the benefit of readers.

Although quite busy currently, by virtue of the fact I have given my word that such an article of this nature would be written in the very near future, I have no alternative except to see to it that this article is written.

What exactly is defensive driving, you might ask?

Defensive driving in reality actually is driving safely. When going from one destination to another, a driver should ensure that his journey to the next destination is conducted in a safe and sound manner.

Reaching your destination safe and sound is not sufficient though. In the process of the journey, the driver should see to it that no traffic offenses are committed.

In going, say from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore for instance, a driver exceeds that maximum speed limit of 110 km/h, overtakes at double lines and overtaking on the left. The above are some of the things a good driver should not do. This is not defensive driving at all, sad to say.

A good defensive driver will always ensure that the vehicle which he is using to travel long distance undertakes a pre-check before he takes such a demanding journey. Such a long and arduous journey under hot and humid conditions of the Malaysian weather takes a big toll on any vehicle or car.

Therefore, prior to setting off for the impending journey, a good and competent defensive driver is expected to do a few important things.

The air-conditioner should ideally be checked. Air-con gas should be filled up and the entire unit serviced where need arises. Nothing is more irritating and troubling than a car whose air-con system isn’t working. Drivers have been reported to have been involved in accidents time and time again because of this.

Pre-driving checks also include checks on tyre pressure, tyre treads and conditions. Do remember that a good tyre thread should be at least 60% when going on a long distance journey. Brakes, radiator, fan belts, spare tyre with pressure inside, indicators, horn, brake lights and sufficient engine oil in the engines are but some of the important things a driver should check before he begins a journey.

Do ensure you send your vehicle for servicing at your usual service centre or mechanic prior to your journey back home to your state where you came from.

Before starting on journey home, also ensure your license, vehicle road tax, insurance coverage are all in proper and valid order.

A good and competent defensive driver also sees to it his vehicle is equipped with a handy tool box, fire extinguishers and emergency cones or triangular hazard equipment before a long journey back home is contemplated. Having a spare fan belt and a can of brake fluid in your booth represents good driving habits you are encouraged to adopt.

Many accidents have happened due to the driver not fully prepared for the long and arduous journey. As such, drivers are advised to retire early or sleep early as this would ensure that you’ll be fit and ready for the next day’s journey.

Planning one’s journey is yet another way to ensure that your journey is carried out safe and sound. Proper planning ensures that a driver does not fight against time. To drive impatiently and against time will lead to bad decisions on the road eventually.

Know exactly how many hours you’ll need to reach your destination. Plan where to stop and take a rest, especially at Rest and Recreation (R&R) areas to get your much needed break. It also provides your vehicle a much required break. Engines and tyres become overheated after traveling hundreds of kilometers.

Drivers tend to become tired and sleepy after long hours of driving. A driver having his wife or girlfriend accompanying him beside him on a journey back home is indeed a boon.

In times of break, a good defensive driver is encouraged to do some exercise if one can. Take some hot and exhilarating drinks such as Milo, Nescafe, Horlicks, Tongkat Ali etc wherever possible. Hopefully, all the above suggestions would go towards making your journey back home safe.

In driving back home, a good defensive driver should remain alert at all times.

Nothing is more dangerous than a driver that is not alert. If you feel sleepy or tired, request your 2nd driver to take over.

Make regular stops wherever necessary. It does not matter if the journey back home that you take incurs a longer time than normal. The important thing is that you and your family reach your destination safely. As they say, “better late than never”.

In defensive driving, one is advised to follow the 2, 4, 10 and 12 seconds rule. To follow the above would certainly go a long way towards making you a better driver all round. Readers who are unaware of the above safe driving methods are advised to read up these terms.

One important and safe manner of driving, especially on our expressways is to maintain the maximum speed that is allowed. For your reminder, the maximum speed limit permitted is 110 km/h. Remember, as the saying goes, “speed kills”!

Overtaking at expressways is one of the most dangerous thing a driver can make. In one of my earlier articles on overtaking, I have elaborated very meticulously, step by step how overtaking is to be executed. You are advised to read this article carefully. It would, I’m sure go a long way in assisting you to overtake on expressways.

Talking further on overtaking, overtake only where it is safe. Do not overtake at double lines or single white line. Avoid overtaking when approaching cars are heading towards you. Corners are another place where overtaking is not encouraged. Uphill and downhill are two more places where you should not overtake at all.

In defensive driving, drivers are reminded not to make emergency lanes into another extra lane, especially along expressways. Impatient drivers have often been noted to do this when jams occur. Avoid the tendency to behave in such a manner wherever possible.

In Australia, where the authorities there follow the defensive concept of driving very closely, it has achieved an 80% decrease in the rate of accidents there. But unfortunately, here in Malaysia, defensive form of driving has not achieved the results which the authorities aimed for.

Why is there such a vast disparity between the success obtained by the Australian authorities as compared to our Malaysian counterparts?

Basically the Australian concept of defensive driving syllabus covers:

i) An aptitude test before a student can take up driving.

ii) A 5 hour course for potential drivers on good driving.

iii) Passing of the Highway Code.

iv) A 6 hour theory course.

v) A compulsory practical course of a minimum 40 lessons.

vi) A compulsory 10 hours night driving course.

vii) 2 “P” periods of 2 years each.

viii) “P” drivers cannot drive alone. They must have a passed driver sitting beside them.

ix) “P” drivers are not allowed to drive at night.

Malaysian “P” drivers should be able to evaluate for themselves the different requirements expected of them and their Australian counterparts.

It is little wonder why the defensive form of driving is so successful in Australia, but not in Malaysia. Malaysia, you see does not follow all the recommendations of defensive driving.

If Malaysia wishes to achieve success as accorded by Australia, it has no other alternative but to follow faithfully the complete defensive form of driving as advocated by the Australian authorities. There are no two ways about it!

Malaysian authorities are therefore advised to quickly make a revamp of the entire defensive driving system which is currently used here. Hopefully, it is hoped that we could then emulate Australia’s success of a reduction of 80% in road accidents. In Australia can, Malaysia likewise too can! As we say in Malaysia, Malaysia Boleh!

A lot of time and effort has been put into coming up with this article. Hopefully, readers of this blog will be able to benefit from it. After reading it, readers are able to become safe and defensive drivers. Then, my effort in writing this article would then have been worthwhile after all.