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Driving in Malaysia

Like the United Kingdom, traffic in Malaysia moves on the left side of the road, and most vehicles are right-hand drive. Motorcyclists attempt to circumvent traffic blockage by weaving in and out of traffic, temporarily using vacant oncoming traffic lanes, and running through red lights. This poses a hazard for both drivers and pedestrians unfamiliar with such traffic patterns. If you drive, you should use your turn signals well in advance of turning to alert motorcycles of your intent to turn. You must use your seat belts in Malaysia and must not use your cell phone while driving. Turning left at a red light is not legal unless otherwise marked.

Traffic is heavy during the morning and afternoon rush hours and slows down considerably when it rains; monsoon rains can quickly flood roads located in low-lying areas. Bottlenecks are common in major cities because infrastructure development has not kept pace with the proliferation of motorised vehicles. Multi-lane highways often merge into narrow two-lane roads in the centre of town and cause added congestion. Many streets are narrow and winding.

Kuala Lumpur has good quality roads, but driving in the city can be a nightmare with massive traffic jams, a convoluted web of expressways and oft-confusing road signs. If driving, be especially aware of sudden lane changes by cars and reckless motorcyclists who tend to weave in and out of traffic. Do not park at the road of busy districts such as Bangsar or Bukit Bintang because other cars might lock you in by parking next to you in the 2nd or 3rd lane. Use covered car parks or park a bit off the beaten path, and then walk back.

Reports of late-night road rage incidents, especially after midnight, are rising. If you drive, avoid confrontational behaviour if you are involved in an accident, especially with a motorcyclist. If you are threatened, leave the scene and file a report with the local police within 24 hours.

Please note that laws against drinking and driving are strictly enforced and carry serious penalties. Police operate sobriety checkpoints in many entertainment districts frequented by expatriates. At these checkpoints, all drivers must submit to alcohol breath tests. If you failing a breath test, you will be arrested.

All drivers in Malaysia are required to have a valid driving licence; either a Malaysian driving licence, a foreign driving licence (e.g. UK, valid for three months), or an International Driving Permit (if the foreign driving licence has been lost or is being renewed). Foreign nationals staying in Malaysia for longer than three months must get a Malaysian driving licence or an annually-renewable International Driving Permit.





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