Driving in Malaysia



Roads & Traffic Conditions 

The country has built a network of high-speed motorways over the past two decades. However, road safety is far from satisfactory. Overcrowded cars racing along roads at more than 100kph are a common sight. What's more, most of the occupants never wear seatbelts and toddlers crawling around in the front seat, unrestrained most of the time, seem to be the norm. Motorcyclists in Malaysia classify as speed demons, usually without helmets or unfastened helmets, taking sharp and sudden turns. 

Malaysia has one of the highest numbers of road fatalities in the world. In most cases, drivers are high on adrenaline rather than alcohol. In a new country where traffic regulations and road signs could be confusing, this could be an unnerving factor. If you are doubtful, opt for a taxi instead of driving around yourself. Use this time to educate yourself about roads, traffic conditions and regulations. You can strike out on your own only when you feel confident.    

Driving License

Your national driving license or an international driving permit should suffice if you would like to drive in the country. To get a Malaysian driving license, contact the traffic police department. Your passport, residence visa, and work permit are important documents that you will need when you apply for a Malaysian license.  


Seat belts are mandatory for all occupants, front and rear and must be worn even while travelling in taxis. 

For children under 8 years of age, suitable child restraint is necessary irrespective of whether children are travelling in the front or rear.   

Use of mobile phones while driving is not permitted. 

Third party insurance is mandatory. 

Carry your driving license and car insurance certificate with you at all times.  

Nearly 17 people are killed in road accidents in the country every day. Educate yourself about traffic regulations and more importantly follow them for your safety and that of others. 

Never jump a red light. 

The traffic police are entitled to impose heavy fines on violators. The Malaysian police have introduced a 50% discount facility to traffic offenders who pay their fines within 30 days of being charged. Those who have not paid their fines and are in receipt of traffic summons are entitled to 30 per cent discount. Please check on the availability of this scheme first. Do not assume that it is still in force.   

Watch out for speed demons performing tricks on Malaysian roads, especially on weekends.  

In Case of an Accident

Police/Ambulance: 999

Fire: 994

The Ministry of Health is the main provider of ambulance services in Malaysia. Several other institutions like university hospitals, private clinics and organizations such as Civil Defense 3, Malaysian Red Crescent Society and the St. John Ambulance of Malaysia run their own ambulance facilities.

The quality of service and response, however, is far from satisfactory. In case of an emergency, keep a list of local hospitals with emergency sections handy and get there on your own if you can walk or drive.