The Forerunner Of Waze, Malaysian-Style

The Long And Winding Road

Driving on this section from Kuala Kubu Bharu to Tanjung Malim brought back some scary childhood memories. The many winding sections of Federal Route 1 saw some of the most horrific head-on crashes.

When it was the only major road to the north or south, the narrow and mostly two-lane road was also the only route for heavy vehicles. The slow, overloaded trucks and buses used to frustrate many a driver following from behind. Many impatient and weary motorists will either tailgate or overtake dangerously.

Some drivers overtook on blind corners and ended up colliding with another reckless (or innocent vehicle) coming from around a sharp bend.

There were police ‘double-line’ traps to deter such overtaking and speeding. Malaysian motorists on Federal Route 1 devised their own warning system. It started with flashing of headlights to warn vehicles on the opposite direction of a forward police operation.

The more vehicles you see flashing, the more reliable is the warning. The more intense or rapid the flicker of high beams, the nearer the cops. Some of you may say, unlike Waze, the system doesn’t identify the cause of the traffic jam in front. It could, surprisingly.

I remember traveling as a kid in my uncle’s car. There was a very long traffic jam and we had no idea of the cause and were slow crawling cluelessly.

My uncle rolled down his window when he saw a door-less timber lorry snail-crawling up the slope from the opposite direction.

Uncle: Flipped two hands and shrugged shoulders [meaning: what is going on?]

Truck driver: Knocked his two fists together twice [meaning: head-on collision]

Uncle: Curled index finger into a hook and shrugged shoulders [meaning: anyone died?].

Truck driver: Curled finger into hook followed by three fingers [meaning: 3 people died]

There you have it. A rudimentary but effective crowd-sourced social traffic information network, ahead of its time.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 1600, f7.1, 1/1600 sec.

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