Riding a two-wheeled vehicle in Malaysia can be a dangerous endeavor. In 2021, motorcycle and scooter riders accounted for seven out of every 10 traffic fatalities. For context, the country’s death rate only trails behind Thailand. Despite those figures, the Malaysian government hasn't sat by idly while fatalities continue to rise.

Authorities previously implemented dedicated motorcycling lanes on federal highways. However, restricting riders to vehicle-specific lanes has proven troublesome for local authorities. In May, 2021, officials reported that 193 motorcyclists already received summons (citations) for not riding in the designated lanes.

Later that same year, in October, 2021, Associate Professor of the University Putra Malaysia’s Road Safety Research Center Law Teik Hua stated that “a law should be drafted to ensure that when roads are built, motorcycle lanes will also be built.” He went on to estimate that such a mandate would decrease motorcyclist fatalities by 30-40 percent.

That must have caught the ear of the Malaysian Transportation Ministry, as the agency recently proposed a plan to incorporate dedicated motorcycle lanes on all state and federal roads. As a part of the Road Safety Plan 2022-2030, which launched in January, 2022, Malaysia hopes to halve its road fatalities by 2030.

Considering the fact that many Malaysian riders favor sub-500cc motorcycles and scooters, segregating the two/three-wheelers from full-sized vehicles could immediately contribute to the country’s safety goals.

“Small motorcycles will suffer from air drift from faster vehicles, especially coaches, vans, and lorries, on highways,” admitted Transport planning consultant Rosli Azad Khan. Though Malaysia mandates helmet use, he went on to suggest that additional protective gear would help decrease fatalities among riders as well.

Still, Malaysian authorities will need to properly enforce the use of motorcycle lanes for the plan to pay dividends. For now, the proposal has moved on to the Local Government Development Ministry and local councils. It will go before the National Physical Planning Council (MPFN) in 2023.

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