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.