Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How to even the odds of survival on the Malaysian Highway


Seriously, I thought more often about how to survive on the Malaysian highway than anywhere else.  One of those places on the highway on which you need to be is the emergency lane in case your car breaks down.  Think about all those motorbikes coming up along that lane and sometimes the dare-devil road-racers who use the emergency lane to overtake. 


One of the best ways to prevent having your car break down on the highway is preventive maintenance.  Consider checking your car every now and then for the odd sounds or for any leaks from radiator, engine, battery or brake fluids etc.  Of course one of the few unpredictable things is a punctured tire.  I was advised that if you have to stop and repair your car or change tires, try to place your car on the grass verge as far as possible out of the lane itself.  Just make sure you don't go too near slopes and find your car slipping into a ditch. 


On the other hand, if you have to change tires, you may need a stable surface to jack up your car as it may be just as bad if the ground is not hard enough to support your jack.  In this case, stay on the tarmac but put up your emergency lights and as many markers as you can to prevent motorbikes or mad drivers from running into you or your car.  If you don't have any markers, get someone to wave a cloth or a shirt like a flag to warn off all approaching vehicles while you quickly finish your job and get on your way. 


But first of all you must know what to do if your car suddenly refuses to function while you're on the fast-lane.  Most important is not to stop your vehicle right there.  It can be fatal.  You have to reduce your speed gradually, put up the turn signal, and move into the slow lane and then to the emergency lane.  I was told of a guy who called his friend on his cell phone immediately after his car stalled on the fast lane.  His friend only managed to hear him describe his position, then he heard a loud bang, and the phone went dead.


If the worst happens and your car really won't budge from the fast lane, just put up all available emergency markers and get away to safety.  The worst place to stay is near your car.  It's not going to protect you or your passengers.  Think of the highway as a war zone.  You'll notice how dangerous it is when you've stopped your car by the side and look at the traffic zipping by.


In case you have to be a hero because you're the first to come upon a scene of an accident, your first priority should be to make sure other approaching vehicles are warned adequately before you think about rescuing victims from the wreckage.  This is even more important if the accident happened at night.  Safety for yourself and other on-coming drivers must come first. 


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Meanwhile, here are some tips from News Canada:


The number of large commercial vehicles — such as tractor trailers — on our roads has increased dramatically during the past few years. One of the best things you can do to stay safe on the highway is to learn as much as you can about how these vehicles operate. Here are some tips from Transport Canada on how to share the road safely with commercial vehicles:

• While drivers of commercial vehicles enjoy a better forward view and have larger side mirrors than most passenger-vehicle drivers, they also have more and larger blind spots. Avoid lingering in the blind spots of commercial vehicles; if you can't see the driver in their side mirror, then the driver probably can't see you.

• Trucks and buses need more time and distance than cars do to maneuver and stop. When driving in front of a large commercial vehicle, signal your intentions well in advance so that the driver behind has enough time to react properly.

• Truck wheels create a lot of spray in rain, slush and snow. Turn on your windshield wipers before passing commercial vehicles — you need to see clearly at all times.

• Weather conditions and even the time of day can also affect visibility — assuming that other drivers on the road can see you can be dangerous. Signal well in advance, avoid braking abruptly and leave lots of room for passing.

• Commercial vehicles need a lot of space, so watch their turn signals and give them room when they maneuver. Never squeeze between a turning truck and the side of the road; large commercial vehicles must sometimes swing wide to make turns, and your car might be crushed as the truck turns....


Talking about trucks and smaller vehicles, I once witnessed (together with my whole family) how a Proton hatchback diced with a container truck and lost the game.  We were heading north to Gurun and I noticed this container weaving aggressively left and right trying to get ahead of a long line of vehicles.  I held back and stayed far behind this menacing chap.  Then I noticed the hatchback in front of him moving rather sluggishly.  Maybe the driver hadn't noticed the container behind him as he stayed right in front of the container while traffic started to disperse ahead as they picked up speed after clearing the narrow section of the road.  Gradually, he too started to speed up but was rather slow at it. 


Meanwhile the container started to tail-gate him from behind and tried to pass several times but without success.  Then it happened.  The container probably swiped his rear corner.  The hatchback went into a zigzag course and then did a tailspin, shot across the road and reversed into a rubber estate narrowly missing some trees and came to a stop among some bushes.  End of story.  Don't truck with the trucks.  Give them a wide berth.


There must be lots more tips of staying healthy and alive on the roads and highways, but at the moment these are the few I can think of.  If you have any of your own or glean them from somewhere, don't keep them to yourselves.  They may help others stay alive in the war zone out there.  So, stay alert, drive defensively, and keep your cool and keep your speed within control.


And above all drive sober ... or don't drive at all. 

1 comment:

  1. Size matters in this area, the bigger guys always win.