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Saturday, February 14, 2004

Malaysian Drivers - A car can be a weapon

Malaysia experiences never before experienced road rage – but now the newspapers are full of stories of fatal accidents. Last year, there was an ongoing discussion about an increase of speed limits, which luckily didn’t go through. Cars are getting better, but the mindset of the drivers is still the same or even got worse over time – the roads feel like a war zone, where everybody fights each other – centimeter by centimeter. Using emergency lanes, cutting in at the last second into the lane that one intends is the picture of the day – what right do those have to behave like that? Do they feel better? Do they feel any remorse at all? Or don’t they feel anything? How do those feel that stand in the right lane from the very first beginning, far behind and they see, how others in front of them cut in? What would happen if they also got angry and behave like road bullies?

I wrote this letter to an imaginative driver – I imagined one who just overtook me very dangerously, and will send it to some Malaysian newspapers.

Dear Driver.

Did you finally manage to overtake me? I am happy that you are gone. You drove so close behind me that you wouldn't have any time to stop on time in case of emergency. Just imagine something would have happened in front of me and I would have needed to break suddenly – you dramatically shortened my space to break. You wouldn't have made it and I wouldn’t. Worse of all you highlighted with all the lights that you installed - I was blended quite a bit. It is quite threatening, how that felt.

Do you know that a family died in Germany because a guy just like you drove so close behind them and tried to bully them just like you did - with headlights and driving so close? The driver has been charged with murder. The driver in front panicked and had a fatal accident. The bully now has a long time to think through his actions, as he serves time in jail for murder - and so will you if you have an accident.

Why do drivers do this I asked, why do they drive like that? Malaysians are a friendly lot - until they sit and drive a car. It can't be that you drive like this to gain time, be faster wherever you intend to go? You don't win much, you know. May be 5, may be 10 minutes. Is this worth the risk? Especially since you have children - I could see them when you raced passed me and cut back into my lane immediately.

The newspapers are full of stories nowadays about children, who are rude, out of control, rape, bully, extort, play truant, or are picked up for gangsterism by the police. Everybody blames violence on TV, pornography on the Internet for it. Have you looked into the mirror? What values do your children learn from you, their father, who bullies, threatens, speeds, beats traffic lights, parks anywhere, tries to bribe the police guy, who wants to give you a ticket. Do you think your aggressiveness is far away from the one, who was sent to jail this morning for murder?

Cars are weapons, and can kill. Many drivers just upgraded their car, - their weapon - to the next available “nuclear deterrent" - after installing plenty of new lights to the car and huge spoilers, we now see exhausts that are bigger, and noisier. Are they suppose to show power and strength, so that no one dares to come close or stands in your way.

I know you are not the only one who drives like that and nearly everybody does it currently. But we need to change and get used to a different style to make Malaysia a better place again.

This change is possible, one second at a time. I am doing it now, as I don't want to play this "game" anymore - I drive slower and much more relaxed. Try it - it is relaxing, actually, and I am not as exhausted as you are probably when I arrive in my office or at home may be 5 minutes after you arrived at your location.

I am exhilarated and energetic, while you are probably pumped up, full of anger, and soon so very tired, when the adrenaline wears down. If you cannot change, just imagine, you would bully your boss, or the client, whose project you chased - and he or she recognizes you. Gone is the promotion, gone the contract. Just imagine it. It helps!

Thank you and have a nice day, and a long and enjoyable life!

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