Smart commuters: Taking charge of your travelling experience

July 9, 2015
Travel Smarter

WITH well-maintained highways with good facilities available built across the Peninsular Malaysia, we may be blessed with one of the best road system in the region but are we making, the most of our superb infrastructure?

There is more to being smart commuters than passing a driving test and getting a license to drive. When we are on the road, it’s not merely about getting from one place to another, but getting there safely and conveniently.

Therefore, it’s important to note that your journey begins even before you get into the car.

Be prepared

If you are driving long distance, get enough rest so that you are fully alert for the duration of your drive. You can gulp down coffee, and caffeine can keep you awake but its effects may not last long enough. So, get a good night’s sleep and make sure you are well rested, especially if you are embarking on a long road trip.

Be sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition – check that the tires are properly inflated, all fluids are at their proper levels and you have a full tank of fuel.

Start by planning your journey, even short and familiar ones. Be aware of the traffic condition on your route.

As far as possible, give yourself enough time to get to your destination and don’t cut it too close. Nowadays traffic conditions can be unpredictable which can result to a stressful situation and cause drivers to drive hastily, something that we should try to avoid.

Get traffic updates

As part of planning your journey, you may want information on traffic condition and journey routes which you may find on travel advisory website such as www.travelsmarter.com.my
For those driving in the city, check out Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Integrated Transport Information System (ITIS), which is a comprehensive traffic information system to monitor traffic flow in the Klang Valley. Check out the live video feeds and useful traffic information they put on their web site itis.com.my.

Those who are on Twitter can also follow highway authority or concessionaires to get tweets on the latest road conditions such as @LLMinfotrafik. They can also follow @kltrafficupdate, @ITISDBKL and @mytraffic for the latest updates.

These days, most people switch on their GPS-based navigational apps such as Waze or Google Maps on their smartphones to get live traffic updates. ITIS and highway concessionaires are also working with Waze to feed live traffic information to road users to help them avoid congested roads.

Take a minute or two to study the suggested routes and choose wisely. You don’t always have to take the fastest route. Sometimes, it’s better to stick to a route you are familiar with rather than test out your ability to navigate unfamiliar, complicated twists and turns in the hopes to save time.

It is also sensible to memorise the route, just in case you lose your 3G transmissions along the way. If you are driving somewhere you are totally unfamiliar with, it is a good idea to bring a map or download a mapping app on your smartphone.

Turn on the radio for the latest traffic updates, and keep yourself entertained too. That helps because the challenge is to be relaxed but alert when you are driving.

Driver’s fatigue

If you driving long distance, be mindful of driver’s fatigue. Drivers falling asleep at the wheel causes more accidents than you know. It’s especially easy to do so on long stretches of the highways where the drive is smooth and easy.

Experts recommend taking at least a 15-minute break after every two hours of driving, even if you don’t feel tired or sleepy. Grab a snack, take in some fresh air, and stretch your legs by walking around. If you need to, take a quick nap.

If you can, travel with someone who can take turns driving with you. It’s less strenuous and you can also keep an eye on each other. Of course, if the company is good, the miles will just fly by.

Do some research and know the locations of the rest areas on your route. This will also help you to plan your toilet breaks, especially if you are travelling with children and the elderly.

Taking breaks means you will arrive at your destination a little later, but no amount of time saved is worth risking your safety and your loved ones.

Drive smartly

It’s also smart driving to keep costs down by conserving fuel as you drive. Minimise sudden starts and stops, empty your car of all unnecessary weight, and check your tire pressure. Slow down – higher speed means more wind resistance, which makes your engine work harder. Driving just under the speed limit can help reduce fuel consumption.

Don’t wait until your petrol gauge is blinking on E to refuel. As soon as there’s a only a quarter of tank of fuel left, start looking for a petrol station to refill.

Lastly, enjoy your drive. The highways are well maintained and the driving is easy, so the smartest thing to do is to relax, listen to music and take in the scenery. But above all, stay safe.