Saturday, November 04, 2006

Driving tips

These tips are indentified from my experience of driving in Jakarta. They may or may not apply in you area of residence, so adopt accordingly. For driving guidelines, see this.


1. When in doubt whether you can ignore a red light, ask a police officer if present, or people on the street. Do not be pressured to violate the red light by honks behind you.

2. If your machine die in the middle of road, do not panic. Ignore all the honking. You can handle your problem faster if you're calm.

3. If the car in front of you has manual transmission and the driver almost never step on brake in a traffic jam, then she is a good driver. Stay behind her since her car is less likely to suddenly stop without warning.

4. Before turning or changing lane, try to remember the position and movement of other cars behind you. Because once you change your orientation, some cars will enter your blindspot area.

5. If you're not sure when to do the dreaded U turn with all those cars moving so fast, slowly but steadily do the turn. If you move far enough, one of that moving fast car will chicken out and give you the lane.

6. When in doubt, honks twice lightly, each no more than half second. Honking is not necessarily mean you're angry. It may be use to warn others of your position or even to thank them. Honking twice lightly is rarely misunderstood as a declaration of anger.

7. Open the window and wave your hand if you want to do an extreme change of lane. Afterwards, show other drivers a thumbs up to thank them.

8. If you don't want to deaccelerate and let other car enter your lane, honks and turn on you front light briefly. WARNING: In some countries, turning on your front light briefly means the opposite, that is you let others to enter your lane.

9. When road signs are not clear enough (like whether you can turn left disregarding red light) but other drivers (more than 2 drivers) still do it, follow the herd without hesitation. The key is without hesitation! Hesitation gives impression that you're not sure of your innocence thus the police will eat you.

10. When road signs contradicts each other, you are not automatically protected if you pick the wrong one, especially if the contradiction is not..100%. You will know when you see it. Anyway, you should ask people nearby of what to do. If noone around, you must look at the bigger picture and try to guess the intention of the road sign's creator. It is not difficult if you have assimilated the "culture" of driving in that area. Good luck!

11. Point 9 and 10 might depends on the present of police officer. Whether that's true or not, you might never know for the rest of your life. What's important is, what you learn yesterday might not apply today due to police officer's presence. So, especially after facing point 10, you must ask others in your office - who are more experienced in that area - whether you can actually do.. that.

12. In massive trafic jam, rules will almost always be flexible. A police officer will tolerate or even allow you to break any rule, as long as you do not make the jam worse.

13. Public transportation vehicles are notorious for sudden turning and stopping. Be careful near them.

14. When asking for direction, ask more than one person since you might meet someone who try to be helpful although he doesn't really know. Additionally, although you don't have to, you should step down from your car to let them feel respected. Note: I know, it's kind of strange, but that's the way many "low class" indonesian's feel.

15. The orientation and position of road name sign alone, do not consistently indicate which name belong to which street (where as in US for example, a road name sign will be faced in paralel with the length of the street, on the side of that road.). Although road name sign in Indonesia is rather inconsistent, it tends to be put perpendicularly to the length of the street.

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