Are Brunei drivers incourteous?

I wrote yesterday's piece about a hypothetical Brunei driver who did not want to stop at junctions because he is convinced that statistically more accidents happen at junctions and the less time he spends there, the less likely that he will have an accident. Of course by zooming straight without waiting for the lights will likely cause him to have an accident. I didn't realise that most commentators would pick on this.

Brunei drivers are interesting creatures. I have often met outsiders through the many conferences, seminars and meetings held in Brunei that they find Brunei drivers very courteous, they don't honk for instance. Brunei roads are very quiet despite the long delays due to traffic jams. Brunei drivers are very patient. Brunei drivers give way. I heard of one story where an Indonesian driver who drove in Brunei and when he returned back to Jakarta, he dare not drive there anymore because he is so used to the Brunei way of driving. This is not an isolated incident. I have heard it so many times from a number of outsiders that the Brunei drivers I hear them described are so much different than the Brunei drivers, we Bruneians find.

And that's the interesting bit. We Bruneians find other Bruneians lacking in the manner of driving that we want them to be. The top number one complaint is of course the Kiulap roundabout. I have to admit that there are many a time that I find a car which I thought was supposed to be heading another way because of the lane that it was in, suddenly coming my way. At one stage I even went in the hospital road so that I can come out at the traffic light near the mosque rather than brave my way through the roundabout. In fact the wrong usage of lanes in roundabout happens everywhere and not just at the Kiulap roundabout. In other roundabouts, it is just less obvious.

The second area of concern is the zooming through at traffic lights. I don't know what it is about us drivers. Inside the protective metal cocoon of the car, we become fairly aggressive. A couple of minutes that we endure stopping at redlight is a torture that we cannot bear. So the moment the traffic light is yellow, we have to make sure we beat that and you see cars still zooming through even when the light has changed to red. Some have suggested using the British system where the light first changed to red and yellow so that drivers can be ready to move the moment it changed to green. However in Britain (I am not sure whether they have changed this), there used to be a road safety advert about 'not being an amber gamble' - many drivers instead of waiting for the light to change green moved while the traffic lights is red and yellow or rather red and amber and on the other side, the traffic light was changing from amber to red - hence, the accidents.

The third area nowadays seem to be road rage. This is not yet happenning widely but there have been reported cases. And my worry here is that this tended to be gender or racially motivated, like it or not. Bruneians (generally Brunei Malay Males - I am being downright honest here) who drive suddenly finding themselves being overtaken or some mistakes made by female drivers, non-Bruneian drivers or non-Brunei Malay drivers (even those Brunei Malays who happen to look like one) suddenly find themselve outraged that such a thing can happen. I am not sure whether this is because those Brunei drivers drive in small cheap cars did not like this or because those Brunei drivers drive in such big luxurious cars and they do not like this. Even though there is only a miniscule number of incidents but enough to be seen on the roadside if you are driving on the roads. We are not racists and yet the behaviour of some of our countrymen is unnecessarily making the rest of us looked that way.

It is easy to write as a third person and not consider myself as one of the Brunei drivers (even though that is strictly true during weekdays as I only drive my own car during weekends); but the fact is we are the Brunei drivers. You have to admit that some of us do make mistakes and take the wrong lane at the roundabouts, and that some of us thought going a little bit fast at the traffic light while we can still make yellow and that a little curse have escaped from our lips every once in a while at other drivers who overtake you or those who make errors in front of you. Those are inescapible fact. The most important thing is that we have to continously improve ourselves and to keep reminding ourselves about the need to be continually on the look out when driving. There are many solutions such as better engineering, better driving techniques and better enforcements. If you happen to be in one of those agencies, please think of something.


Me said…
I think the Indonesian driver dare not drive in Indonesia because the conditions there are worse. I think if you see Indonesian drivers in Brunei (quite a few - bus drivers, private companies - in kijangs especially) they tend to drive like us Bruneians as well

Getting back to your point of road rage, it happens not just when you overtake somebody. It also occurs when you stay in the middle lane too long and somebody wants to overtake you. These drivers will tailgate until you move over.

I think it is time for the authorities to look at the current higway code and improve the motoring schools and test for our future drivers. I remember seeing one of the teachers showing a student to use the left lane to go around the roundabout to the last exit.
Anonymous said…
i tailgate, i curse, i honk, i point fingers, i give them the stare (toleh dan liat lepas atu jaling),highlight dari belakang and dari jauh when i know the car infront is slow so kiranya to tell them 'bah sasar tah aku kan laju ni' faham jua durang tu bersasar tah ya... you name it i have done that.....but these days i try to calm down....inda baik marah2 ani...mesti relax...bawa beristigfar. naik saja darah inda pedah2 and muka pun lakas bewrinkles. hehe
Being a bandar-KB daily commuter i get to face with a lot of these driving scenarios, and its sometimes hard to blame the commuters jua because factors like condition of the road makes some drivers prefer to drive on the left lane as the right lane road condition is terrible! nada nyaman mun jalan jauh jalanraya kasar cematu atu. bagi rosak lagi kereta tu.
and then ah yang paling i think is risky kalau kan berlaju area nya is at tutong arah orang keluar dari kampong lubok pulau, tanjong maya..adakah di bagi u-turn seriously bahaya especially during rush-hour sebabynya ah jalan atu highway bah di bagi u-turn kepisan eh mun panjang lagi queue nya or ada tia orang mengejut2 masuk ke lane kiri kan arah u-turn...patutnya they make a another road in the kampong or maintain the ld road tembus terus ke bandar tutong where the people inda payah keluar ke main road.

Despite all these, commute jua ku masih...cari rezeki lah katakan.Bertawakal saja arah allah, doa naik kenderaan pun ada jua kena ajar di radio so akhirnya berserah and i try not to do the above things lagi, because dalam islam membunuh diri berdosa and driving fast, recklessly, inconsiderately is also suicidal and may cause death to others.
Anonymous said…
I must admit I often find myself pressing the accelerator when the light turns yellow. But its not because I think I can make it.. but rather its too dangerous for me to stop. That is because the lights turn yellow too late for me to stop or slow down safely at my current speed, especially if there is a car behind me. Nevertheless I do excercise caution and judge the situation carefully. And most important of all I say my prayers
>_< One thing I would never do though is jump the red light. Thats just asking for trouble.
Anonymous said…
I have to totally agree with the second post..been there, done that as well! But its time to be a more responsible and rational road user. Its just that most Bruneian drivers are too laid back sometimes, taking other drivers for granted.

I actually can identify Bruneian driving manners by race, sex, age, class etc

Are there no such thing as a "red light" for some drivers? I personally have had several close encounters with drivers who are colour blind. In my experience overseas, the second you run a red light, its "Smile! you're on candid camera!". Then what are the cameras installed at the top of the traffic lights for? - "Voyeurism?"

Try to observe as well, how looong does it take for the average bruneian driver to move after the light turns green?

Its time for the relevant authorities to have a truly effective road awareness campaign. Being courteous is just one part of driving, obeying the road rules is another.

Remember - Always give traffic to your right!!
Zul-Fadly said…
There are so many incidents and I believe every driver has gone through this.

My only recommendation is why not build a race track. That way drivers have a legal place to release their 'rage'. Malaysia have with the support of their Ministry agreed to but build race tracks to help reduce 'road-rage' incidents.

We need that support. I admit that I am sometimes a 'mad-wannabe-driver' it may sound crazy but it eases me early in the morning before I go to work.
Anonymous said…
It think building a race track would not solve the matter. It would be the training ground for more mad drivers who will be too
eager practice their newly learned skills on public roads.
Anonymous said…
YES, the kiulap roundabout!!!! why do they have to invent it in the first place... what i hate most about the roundabout is, when u try to be cares,others are careless... imagine my nerve if i have to use that roundabout...
Anonymous said…
What about traffic lights at roundabouts?

An example is the jangsak-beribi roundabout traffic lights, with a signboard that states the time of which the traffic lights will be working, which apparently was supposed to 'control' traffic during busy hours... It has been there for about a year now, and it only 'worked' during the first few weeks after the authorities finished installing it... prolly because it doesn't actually 'work' per se, after it's 'trial run'.

Now all those traffic lights to all those exits are just standing there dormant... such a waste.

I didn't see the point behind those traffic lights being there in the first place; if the intention was to 'contain' the traffic, I think it was more towards the reason behind creating it.

And taking into considertion the point that some drivers accelerate during a yellow light... this could contribute to more mishaps around that roundabout.

It's all really a case of patience and cooperation; a 'what goes around comes around' kinda thing. If some drivers believe they own the road, and acts upon that belief, why should they feel agitated if someone else 'steals their thunder'? A case of hypocrisy right there...

All in all, I believe education plays a big part in the implication of an action.
Anonymous said…
Speaking of running red lights my car almost got hit 2 weeks ago by an idiot driver who wasn't paying attention to the traffic lights.

I had stopped at the the traffic lights in gadong waiting for the lights to change and proceeded to move off as soon as the lights turned green. I was already in the middle of the crossing when this idiot from the left junction kept on going and I swear if I hadn't kept on moving forward he would have hit my car.

Obviously he was trailing behind the chain of cars and when the lights turned red he obviously failed to notice the lights thinking it was still his way. Blaring went my horn but it only offended the cars in front.

I agree that a race track will not solve the problem in fact it would only worsen things. It's our attitude we need to change ie. when navigating traffic, be more alert, patient, careful and aware when driving and most importantly think.And ditch the "Aku gagah keturunan Awang Semaun kali ah". What ever happened to courtesy and patience? We're Bruneians a race of "pemedulian".

I live around the Mukim Kilanas area and I'm pretty sure everyone have noticed the increase in traffic congestion along Jln Mulaut, Jln Bengkurung/Masin, Jln Tutong, Jln Gadong, Jln Sengkurong/Jerudong during mornings 4:30pm and 5.30pm. Needless to say my commute time to and from BSB and work has increased by 15 minutes during the peak hour.

Please help.
Anonymous said…
Today's Blog reminds me of a funny & shocking (depending on how you looked at it) example of road rage I witnessed 3 months ago.
An RBAF officer, in full uniform, had stopped his car on the right lane of the busy Airport Highway (next to RBA golf course) during morning peak hour. He stepped out of a shining-new luxury Nissan and walked over to the driver of the car behind (a Chinese man and his family). Without warning, he punched the driver’s side windscreen twice. Unfortunately for his knuckles, the glass did not break.
Visibly shaken, the Chinese family did nothing. (wouldn’t you?) but the terror did not stop there. Probably eager to climb aboard his aircraft cockpit that morning, the Gentlemanly Officer then proceeded to climb on top of the bonnet of his victim's car and jump up and down repeatedly like an enraged gorilla. As I passed Mr. Officer's vehicle, I could see his young petite wife, very demure in her baby blue tudong, looking obviously embarrassed at her husband's display of alpha male superiority.
What really happened, I wonder? Did the Chinese man rudely beep his horn at Mr. Officer? Who knows? What is certain is that Mr. Officer obviously got up on the wrong side of bed that day.
By the way, I caught all this only because his antics caused a one lane jam that reached the Tungku Link section.
More than one employee would have been late that morning.
Anonymous said…
talking abt asking drivers to slow down at yellow, how many of u encountered drivers stoping at GREEN? and to make it worse...but bodoh n mcm inda bedusa...
Anonymous said…
We just don't do enough...ala kadar saja. We don't put enough emphasis on the quality of the driving schools in the country. We don't put enough money on the design of our roads including roundabouts (which is why the Americans don't have roundabouts; it's too difficult for them to understand how to use them). By the way, did you know that in the old days, roundabouts were used to be called "gyratory circuses"? An American decided that it was too many syllables and too mouthful that he decided to change it to the term we now know and love.
I'm impressed that no one here has even mentioned the "kamikaze" driver or "get out of the way, I'm coming through, like it or not" driver. You know those types where they overtake even if there is another car coming head-on in the opposite direction...What an adrenalin rush! It's enough for me to put off from having to drink coffee for the rest of the day..

Ahh..Let me enjoy my Bank Holiday..

**I can resist anything but temptation**
p o t a t o said…
This post reminds me of 3 people
(a) who give death stares to people who overtake her Mercedes.
(b) who say "nda skulah driving tu, org ah"
(c) whose hand is always ready to honk at other drivers' mistakes/stunts

baz said…
there's only two things that bothers me (i m fine with roundabouts and the "mistakes" people make there):

1) why does big huge trucks seem to always drive during peak hours especially during the morning?

ii) why cant the schools have proper pick up for their students, rather than cause huge traffic jams during the morning rush hour, as well as lunch time?

to me, if we can solve the above 2, then the situation would be much better.

i have driven in UK fro 10 years. my advice for roundabouts, if ur driving on the left, please make sure that u use the first exit, thats the golden rule, NOT the 2nd, 3rd or last exit!
m o g L i e said…
I used to be a "kamikaze" driver when I was young (early 20's). It sounds stupid but I believe it was largely due to lack of appreciation towards safety becoz' you're still very much on your own. However, it changed a lot once I've a family of my own. Safety becomes my prime focus becoz' the family is the stake of my life.

To this date I leave home to the office circa 6 am to beat the traffic and it's a 30 mins drive. But the good thing about leaving much earlier contributes a lot to settle my "nerve" and normally give me the mental edge to start with my daily chores. I still practise my long journey management whereby I've to be at my destinations 20 - 30 mins earlier to avoid the "urge" to rush on the road.
Nonnie King said…
But despite of all the hassle and trouble caused, I still give a credit for Bruneian drivers to be courteous, patient and nice giving ways.

I remembered when I was in Bangkok for holidays, I realised the difference.

In Brunei, drivers highlight you giving you hint that they're giving way.

But in Malaysia & Thailand, highlighting means "Don't come out or I'll crash on you!"
Anonymous said…
I do find that most Bruneian are courteous. Curious enough when you see cars stopping to let pedestrians crossing the road, most of the time the drivers are Bruneian. I mean this is what i observe in Miri's street.

Anyway in Sarawak people don't normally honk at people also, the reason is that they are afraid they will end up beaten by gangsters. So ironic.
Anonymous said…
hahhah... very funny annon account on the RBAF officer - i wonder what happened to him? Isnt there any rules and regulation against army officers in full uniform to behave as such? hmm...

anyway, like the indonesian man example, someone who have driven in Brunei, had to be extra careful when driving in Singapore because singapore roads have soo many traffic lights and so many cameras (to catch traffic offenders), the chances of getting caught in singapore, aint worth it..
Anonymous said…
Its just to remind that the drivers in Brunei are not all Bruneian...

The Kiulap roundabout is the first big one... I think we are still not get use of it (balum biasa)...

Just came back from Kuala Lumpur afew days ago (its my 7 visit)... the drivers are far worse than us... syukur!!! born and drive in Brunei... I still have respect to Bruneian drivers...

Malayisan are facing with many tragic car accident eventhough they have built a racing track...
Anonymous said…
Brunei drivers are pretty good if you compare them to drivers from our close neighbouring town, Miri.

Drivers there tend to hog both lanes, on the highways, with apathetic disregard to the basic road etiquettes.

Signalling is unfashionable there. Added to that, you rarely see drivers giving way.

I do my part, ie, give way now and then, and usually the Miri drivers and pedestrians acknowledge this with a smile.

Miri friends who have driven on Brunei roads acknowledge that, on a whole, we are courteous, and one of them even commented that he highly respects Brunei drivers because of our driving habits.

Generally speaking of course. ;)
baz said…
dear Mr BR,

maybe all this talk about brunei drivers etc. is simply due to a lack of public transportation. so what is the nation's current policy on public transport? would we have trains, trams or even London TUBE system in the future?

my brother recently attended a civic course and he was told that brunei and tourist alike would never need them! but i beg to differ, perhaps u can enlighten us on this. sorry if this question mught be irrelevant but then thats me, always out of topic :p
Anonymous said…
"Anonymous said...

It think building a race track would not solve the matter. It would be the training ground for more mad drivers who will be too
eager practice their newly learned skills on public roads.

Monday, August 28, 2006 10:50:57 AM"

LOL! Yes i'd have to agree.
Anonymous said…
So I had some guests over from Singapore recently and the very first comment they made was "Bruneians are very polite drivers!"

Now how about that? We should be sooo proud harhar
Anonymous said…
Look at this:
Anonymous said…
Look at this:

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