Honestly – I’m starting off with a rant. After a good 46 days being stuck safe at home during the Movement Constriction Order (MCO), I finally drove out yesterday to drop my car off at the workshop as the government officially loosens the restriction. And on my rather short 20 minute journey, I found myself on rather clear roads, yet filled with variables that made my drive, for a lack of a better word – unsafe.
Between near miss moments with drivers swerving into lanes without signalling, and impatiently fast vehicles on roads with endless potholes, I started to wonder what is wrong with these drivers? Have some of them lost their sense and ability to drive in the urban setting? I guess the long peaceful time in MCO really got to them. And so I started to question – why do people drive?
For the average driver, driving is just a mode of getting from Point A to Point B. Instead of going somewhere on foot, public transport, or by the good people from ride sharing apps, driving gives a person a sense of convenience to arrive at the day’s objective. Some of them may even have little interest in cars, or driving itself, because the average Joe or Jane only applies driving as a method of meeting their daily goals.
As Enthusiasts – Why Do We Drive?
If you’re reading this, then very likely you love cars and understand that driving is beyond just getting to your destination. It’s about the experience behind the wheel, the feeling of connectedness between the driver and the machine, and the rush of discovering your car’s capabilities on the tarmac. The enthusiast understands the risks in driving, and use his/her capabilities to ensure that these risks are reduced at all times on the drive. It’s never the destination, but always the drive itself.
The moment you drive out on to public roads, you are bound by so many variables. And these variables includes the average Joe or Jane who uses a car only as a tool. Okay, don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not blaming them for driving. But the controversially wise Jeremy Clarkson once said – “If you have no interest in cars, you have no interest in driving. And if you have no interest in something, it means you are no good at it, which means you must have your driver’s license taken away.”
But cars were always intended to make human lives easier. Just so happen that some of us grew a sense of affection to it, a little more than most. A research estimated that there are about 12 million miles of paved tarmac around the globe. And if we consider the world as our playground, then it’s a huge space to share. So how do we, as driving enthusiasts can make our shared realm a better place for everyone, including other average Joe/Jane road users?
Get Ready For Post-MCO Driving.
Must be said, being stuck at home have definitely gotten us constantly itching for that weekend getaway drive isn’t it? The kind that find ourselves up early in the morning or late at night for a spirited run to the hills. At the slightest opportunity at it, I’m going to do the same but there is a lot to be mindful about especially after the long rest.
These drives used to have a different feel. It wasn’t an event, but just a small group of friends that just wanted a bit of fresh air at the top and enjoy the drive in between after a Teh Tarik session. That kind of feel. But with the growing number of enthusiasts and constant accidents happening every other weekend (pre-MCO), it brings to question truly what has happened?
The general misconception is that – people understand Touge drives as street racing when they’re actually just a bunch of individuals enjoying a piece of road with their cars, not competing with each other. If they understood this, then car guys wouldn’t be getting such a bad rep for all the mishaps and accidents that has happened in the past. Driving itself is a risk, regardless if it’s the street outside your house, the highway, or even a particularly “famous” road that we drivers take on a weekend spirited drive.
Public Service Announcement!
Check Your Car!
Still have FOUR inflated wheels? Good! But consider checking a few other things like the levels of various fluids in your car. Surely you’d have warmed up the car during the MCO, but you might want to re-check on your brake lines, suspensions, bushings and various possible wear and tear. May sound odd for it to happen when your car may have just been parked a while, but I personally discovered a new knocking sound on my car from my lower arm bushing after hard parking for 40 odd days. Rubber pieces might’ve hardened and cracked during the period. Highly recommend that you take it over to your regular workshop and have a quick check-up.
Keep your car safe and it will keep you safe!
Loosen Yourself Up!
Oh you know it – the moment arrives and you’re all about pedal to the metal. It’s been so long since we last had a proper drive, and the adrenaline might kick in a bit sooner than your valve lifts. But you don’t want to arrive a bit too hot on a bend and find yourself a tad over the limit. If you’ve been spending time on driving simulators at home or participating in the MSF Cyberturismo competition even, then getting back on to the driving seat should give you a good feel.
Regardless, pace yourself into the spirited drive, and consider bedding in your feel for the car’s limitations again. You know your car best, but just keep it in mind that you are not alone out there.
It’s Never A Race!
Leave your ego at home. I have car friends too, and they can sometimes be pushy and enticing during the drive. Just be the responsible driver and adhere to the unspoken (or rather famously briefed) rule of the drive.
- Never overtake the car in front on your convoy.
- Leave room between cars in your convoy, for a good and safe distance.
- No crossing of the opposite lane, unless it is to overtake slower moving cars in a safe manner!
- Use you signal indicator, to keep others in your convoy informed when you are overtaking.
- Know your limits, and your car’s limits too!
Respect The Route
So the word on the street recently explained that the environment in which one of the more frequented driving routes isn’t a safe anymore. I would concur, however, we as drivers must always consider the open world as a shared playground. Any route you take is the same, be it Ulu Yam, Kuala Kelawang, Pikes Peak, Nürburgring, or Hakone Turnpike. These variable factors and ‘obstacles’ have been in place longer than we have, in fact, the piece of road inculcated itself around the towns and various amenities on the route. And yes, it being a public access route, the average Joe/Jane travels on them too and have been doing so for a long time. To claim that it is suddenly unsafe today I think is utterly absurd.
These frequented routes are becoming busier as the number of driving enthusiasts are constantly growing by the day. But honestly, the location is not the problem. The mindset of drivers are! For the newbies, do not misconceive this activity as a proving ground. And for the old timers, let’s bring back the essence of these drives and don’t ignore the surrounding. If we all can share the same values, then we can all keep each other safe whilst enjoying the drive.
Remember – #RespectTheRoute
It is our duty as drivers to not disregard the surrounding and to always Respect The Route. Regardless of any piece of road you take, there will be always be infinite amount of variables on the route and drivers must be respectful to these factors in ensuring the safety of everyone on this shared playground. Never blame other factors or drivers, because you at the wheel can make the call to a safer driving environment. Accidents can happen, so just remind ourselves to always take the highest level of precaution and minimise these risks.
Want to compete on these twisties? Malaysia Speed Festival have prepped the MSF Touge platform on closed roads. Want to test your car? Take it to the track. These open roads are NOT PROVING GROUNDS. Use it wisely and enjoy it together with minds a like and other public road users. Regardless if it’s to work or to Touge – Keep within limits, and don’t make stupid calls on the drive. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
This is a gentle reminder to all, including our followers, readers, and myself too to be mindful on the road. It is your responsibility at the wheel to keep you, your passengers, and your car safe. Enjoy the drive and come back home safely with a smile. Always keep in mind – Drive Responsibly and #RespectTheRoute!
Written By | Qhalis Najmi