Demon Drivers

Evening weekend traffic along the KL Federal Highway
Making use of modern technology, my cousins created a WhatsApp group with my siblings and I so that we can stay connected with our current happenings.  Staying in touch with this group means that I know the weather in Wimbledon, what was for lunch in Sydney and how the morning or evening traffic is building up on Kuala Lumpur’s Federal Highway.  The heated exchanges between my brother and a cousin to update each other on the traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur expressways, gives me such a headache that I will turn my phone to silent mode.

I can picture the typical traffic snarl in our capital city and how people have to cope with it just to get to work on time and when to leave the office to reach home at a reasonable hour.  That’s because we in Johor Baru have our own share of horror traffic experiences particularly in the morning and after-office hours.  In fact, we have our own unique traffic experiences when we cross the border into Singapore and return to Johor Baru.

This impatient driver is switching lanes for the second
time while queuing on Woodlands Road, Singapore
For those who frequently travel across the Causeway or use the Second Link, it is understood that everyone wants to reach their destination quickly and on time.  But if traffic is heavy, we are familiar with the inconvenience of waiting in a queue and will inch along slowly but we will eventually reach our destination.  And if each driver joins a queue and remains in his lane, patiently following the traffic flow, everyone should get through it feeling at ease with the wait.

I have unfortunately, come across impatient drivers who think they can get to their destination faster if they cut the queue.  Some drivers cannot make up their minds on which lane to follow and they switch lanes at random, thinking the other lane is moving faster and they irritate other drivers who are patiently inching along.  Everyone is tired and wants to get to their destination too so I always wonder why these drivers are so inconsiderate.  It just takes one impatient driver and another driver who does not want to give way to cause a collision and this will result in a worse traffic congestion where everyone suffers!

Every Sunday evening, all the roads in Johor Baru leading to the Sultan Iskandar Customs Immigration Quarantine Complex are chock-a-block with traffic heading back to Woodlands, Singapore.  With a favourable exchange rate, we can expect visitors from our neighbouring country to visit Johor Baru more frequently and help boost our economy through shopping, making use of car wash services and enjoying good food here.  With the coming year-end holidays, there will be an influx of tourists but we should be able to deal with more cars in the queue if the Traffic Police deployed more personnel to control the drivers and the Immigration Department opened all the booths at the checkpoint every day. 

If the management of Danga City Mall and the Traffic Police worked together, we should also be able to deal with the horrific traffic situation along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak when there is an event at the Expo hall.  This mall has both indoor and outdoor parking facilities but stubborn drivers still prefer to park along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak.  These recalcitrant drivers not only double park along the road but some even boldly park on the road divider as well as on the ramp leading up to the Inner Ring Road!

Cars illegally parked [Left] along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak
near the Expo event hall, Danga City Mall in JB
Those parking on the roadside narrows the path leading into the mall’s parking areas and the cars parked on the divider and ramp create a bottleneck on the expressway.  Jalan Tun Abdul Razak is a busy road and other road users are compelled to squeeze into a single lane because of the many cars that are illegally parked along the road.  I have observed that many of the illegally parked cars are not ordinary cars but big cars whose drivers not only can afford to spend money at the event hall but also pay the paltry parking fees!

From the looks of those illegally parked cars, their owners should be educated and upright citizens but when it comes to a basic thing like being civic minded they fail miserably.  People learn by example and if they see another driver getting away with illegally parking their vehicle, they will follow suit because everyone else is doing it.  Because of their selfish wish to walk a shorter distance and not pay any parking fees, a lot of other road users suffer.

Since the Expo hall started holding events, drivers have been parking illegally along Jalan Tun Abdul Razak even though the mall had free parking but when the mall started to charge for parking, the cars are now causing greater obstruction because they are parked as far as half-way up the ramp.  But why do they illegally park along the road when it is so obvious that their cars are obstructing other road users?  I guess they keep doing it simply because they can.

The same goes for drivers who illegally park along Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim, Jalan Salim and the surrounding roads just to avoid paying parking fees when they go to events held at the Persada International Convention Centre.  It’s not only unsightly in the city centre but they cause unnecessary obstruction when they inconsiderately park at every available space on both sides of the road.  I’m not going to discuss the indiscriminate parking by fans of the JB Bazaar and Harimau Selatan because that’s another story but by now, the authorities concerned should get an idea of what I’m urging them to do.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 5 November 2013

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