Sunday, February 12, 2006

Staying on the fast lane


Your rights are not guaranteed on the fast lane.  I mean your rights of way, if you’re not fast enough for the faster drivers or speed freaks.  But then, to drive in the slow lane on certain stretches of the North-south expressway can be pretty stressful, more stressful than risking getting your tail bumped in the fast lane. 


There are those super slow road huggers who think doing 60-80 kph guarantee their survival until a ripe old age when they go to drivers’ heaven.  (Of course I’d forgive those who’d just got their driver’s license or are venturing out on the expressway for the first time)  So, if you insist on your regular 110 kph, you need to keep weaving in and out of the slow lane or risk rear-ending into some of those boring behinds.


And according to my logical reasoning, due to slow moving cars and the heavy and equally slow moving trucks and buses squeezing the surface of this lane, the tarmac wears out faster than the fast lane.  This contributes to the uncomfortably bumpy road surface.   


Then there are those motorbikes crowding the emergency lane.  Those guys tend to spill over to the side of the slow lane and some even stray all the way to middle of the lane. 


So, to stay alert and keep moving I tend to stay on the fast lane at the maximum side of speed limit and keep eyes to both the front and back of me.  Every now and then a sleek, (usually dark and vulgar-looking) road runner would creep right up behind me or suddenly appear on my rear-view mirror and flash its headlights continuously until I get out of its way.  I say “its” because these whodunits don’t seem human at all.  Before I could barely move aside, the critter would squeeze by leaving a hair’s width in between and push on as if trying to make up for the few seconds of lost time.  But many of these roadrunners usually have one or two more equally crazy drivers stuck on their tails trying to outdo one another.


Occasionally, one would meet up with another kind of road animal.  Once on a sunny Sunday morning, I was out there with wifey in my Iswara on our way to an in-law’s.  As usual, I kept to max speed limit and stayed comfortably on the fast lane.  Like most Sunday mornings, the whole expressway was clear for long stretches until I suddenly noticed a huge bike with a rider dressed in jeans, black jacket and dark shades right behind me.  I’d been used to motorbikes sticking to the side lanes and had not reacted by moving aside for him.  The biker passed me on the left and proceeded to make hand signals, the way a traffic cop would do, that seemed to say I have to move to the slow lane since I’m slower.  “Mind your own bloody business, you non-paying highway user.” I mumbled to myself.  I let that go as he had, by then, sped off as if there’s no such thing as a speed limit.


About 20 minutes later this pesky biker suddenly appeared behind me again.  Of course I had to look to my right to see if there are vehicles before I can move away to make room for this “big” bugger.  But it seems he had other things in mind.  As if to teach me a lesson he passed me again on the left and swiped my side mirror.  Though he caused no damage he gave wifey a fright and set my blood to a boil.  I leaned on my horn while he sped off.  I just wondered what he had hoped to achieve by that little fancy act.  If I had been a little more hot headed (or wifey had not been in the car) who’s to know that I wouldn’t twist my steering into his direction and spill him onto the tarmac?  At 110 kph, that would make a messy tumble.  Did he forget that he’s got only 2 wheels?  Or perhaps he’d only pick on a harmless looking uncle and auntie out on a Sunday drive. 


Well, Mr. Biker, whoever you are.  Save your one-upmanship and take care.  Your next “victim” may not be as nice or as patient.



  1. This issue will always bring up a heated debate over here. I'm not sure if there's a rule that says you may stay in the passing lane as long as you're driving at the speed limit. But still, it doesn't give the right to a faster car behind to pull a stunt like that. It's called tailgating and it's dangerous and illegal.

    However, I think there may be a rule that says you have to give up the passing lane if there is a faster car behind you. The biker, on most probably a Harley, was thinking about the latter rule when he was giving you the hand signals. But since he's a "man", compensated by the size of his bike's engine, he decided to become a highway vigilante and give you lesson. That is very wrong and very stupid, as you've noted how vulnerable he made himself become to someone who might retaliate.

    Such is the chaos off highway driving these days. Stay alert and try not to disrupt the flow of the traffic. Drive like everyone else is an idiot. If you need to stay in the passing lane, do it on a long stretch where you can see 1km behind you to spot the speed demons. One day, Mr. Thunderbolt in his sleek car may fail to notice the car on the passing lane that he's approaching at 60kph in excess because he's looking at the rear mirror to see if his racing rival is catching up. And who's to pay for his stupidity?

    Never try to enforce the rules of the highway to someone who obviously failed to learn them. I believe they will eventually figure it out - the hard way. One day, Mr. Thunderbolt will meet Mr. Harley driving his car on the passing lane, driving at a slower speed than Mr. Thunderbolt. Mr. Thunderbolt proceeds to flash his lights and inch up to Mr. Harley's rear bumper to intimidate him out of the way. That sparked a righteous fury out of Mr. Harley. Being the self-proclaimed highway vigilante he is, Mr. Harley did a "brake check" - a quick tap on the brakes - to scare off the punk behind him. Mr. Thunderbolt, too close to react in time, bumped into Mr. Harley. Both lost control of their cars and crashed, and all they gained was the priviledge to be part of the national highway accidents statistics.

  2. The only rules that I know of on the highway are:
    1. Drive defensively
    2. Use common sense
    3. Say your prayers every time you clock in your touch n go.
    4. Don't ever loose your cool.

    The worst part of having Mr Harley meeting Mr Thunderbolt is having innocent victims in between. I've seen too many close shaves myself. An example was; one early morning Mr Thunderbolt came up suddenly behind us when my friend who was driving noticed a blockage ahead. He immediately swerved to the left. Mr Thunderbolt pushed right through and noticed the obstruction ahead too late. But his luck held. He managed to bring his mean machine under control after bumping the center divider a few times. Costly lesson...

  3. It seem like driving in malaysia as bad as in China, no body care enough about others road user. I'm very sure if you want to drive in China, you must have a very good break and hon, stay alert all the time to make emergency break. There is too many "Idiots" on the road, must be very carefull at all time and this put the driver in high stress.

  4. They say that if you're coming back to Malaysia from Europe, you'll need to drive for a while in Italy to prepare yourself. Now it looks like you need to drive for a while in Malaysia before you can drive in China...

  5. Two health problem come close to you if are driver in China, number one is High Blood Pressure and second is Heart problem. Is better don't drive in China.

  6. Of course I'd rather not drive in China unless really unavoidable. It's on the different side of the road!!! It's like switching your brain-work from left to right. If any error there's no "undo" button.