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Driving into Malaysia
ICA warns that continuous heavy traffic is expected until the end of 2023, especially on the weekends. IMAGE: 123RF

Jingle Bell Gridlock: How To Survive Land Checkpoint Jams During the Festive Long Weekends

If you’re planning to go through the Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints over the two upcoming long weekends (Christmas and New Year), you’d better be ready for a possible bumper-to-bumper snoozefest.

ICA warns that continuous heavy traffic is expected until the end of 2023, especially on the weekends. In fact, traffic at both land checkpoints between 15 to 17 December saw over 1.3 million travellers passing through, or a whopping 435,000 crossing the border every day. That’s 30,000 more travellers compared to the same period in pre-pandemic 2019.

It's important to be mindful of the traffic between Singapore and Malaysia. Whether you're heading to Johor Bahru for some shopping or traveling further afield, it's essential to plan ahead and be patient. Remember, everyone else is also trying to get to their destination.

Here are some suggestions on what to do pre-departure, and some do's and don'ts if you get stuck in a jam:

IMAGE: ONEMOTORING | LAND TRANSPORT AUTHORITY (LTA)

1. Plan ahead before you leave

If you know you'll be traveling between Singapore and Malaysia during peak hours, it's a good idea to plan ahead. Check the traffic conditions on One Motoring before you leave, and try to avoid traveling during rush hour if possible. If you're driving, consider taking an alternate route, or if you're a public transport commuter, look for a different mode of transportation that might be less crowded.

For even more detailed updates, you can join the Custom & Msia Road Telegram group for real-time insights (or should we say, complaints) about traffic conditions.

2. Driving? Stay calm, keep your cool, and don't cut queue

The first and most important thing to do when caught in an unexpected traffic jam is to breathe. While you might feel tempted to activate your inner Dom Toretto, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have announced new measures against drivers who use the motorcycle lane to cut the queue and re-enter the car lane.

Drivers who cross the new Double White Lines (DWL) into the motorcycle lane will now risk 4 demerit points and a fine of $150

    4. Make the most of your time

    If you're a public transport commuter, whip out that book you've been meaning to read or catch up on some work. Many trains and buses these days also come equipped with Wi-Fi, so you can catch up on your emails, listen to podcasts, or browse the internet.

    5. Stay hydrated and well-fed, but mind your bladder 

    No one likes to be stuck in traffic when they're hungry or thirsty. So make sure you bring along some snacks and drinks to keep you going. If you're driving, keep a cooler in the backseat filled with cold drinks and snacks like chips, crackers, and fruit. If you're taking public transport, pack a small bag with a water bottle and some non-perishable snacks like granola bars or nuts.

    That being said, no matter how much you love McDonald's, it's probably NOT a good idea to dapao a Double McSpicy for the road. Nor would we recommend bringing a Venti-sized Starbucks coffee, even if you can foresee yourself having to stay awake to drive through the night. Short of doing your business in a bush, our Malaysian kaki  points out that Tuas checkpoint has a nearby petrol station, but that Woodlands doesn't, so if you're desperate for a toilet, you'll need to walk back to the checkpoint to relieve yourself. 

    6. Give your car engine a break

    Traffic jams can be a major source of air pollution, which is why it's important to be an eco-friendly driver when stuck in traffic. Here are some tips:

    • Turn off your engine: If you're going to be stuck in traffic for more than a minute or two, turn off your engine. Idling for long periods of time can produce more pollutants than if you were driving.

    • Maintain your car: Regular maintenance can help keep your car running efficiently, which reduces emissions. Make sure your car is properly tuned up and your tires are inflated to the correct pressure.

    • Carpool or take public transport: One of the most effective ways to reduce emissions is to carpool or take public transport. If you're traveling with friends or family, consider sharing a car. Or, if you're a public transport commuter, take advantage of the many bus and train options available.

    • Avoid aggressive driving: Accelerating and braking aggressively can increase your car's emissions. Try to maintain a steady speed and avoid sudden stops and starts.

    By following these eco-friendly driving tips, you'll not only reduce emissions but also save money on gas. So, the next time you're stuck in a traffic jam, do your part to help protect the environment.

    7. Stay safe

    Last but not least, it's important to stay safe when stuck in traffic. If you're driving, keep a safe distance from the car in front of you, and be aware of your surroundings. If you're a public transport commuter, stay vigilant of your belongings and avoid leaving them unattended.

    Bonus Tip: Learn to laugh about it

    Let's face it, being stuck in traffic isn't anyone's idea of a good time. But sometimes, you just have to laugh it off. Make light of the situation by telling some jokes or playing a game with your fellow commuters. You'll be surprised how quickly time flies when you're having fun.

    While being caught in an unexpected traffic jam between Singapore and Malaysia can be frustrating, it doesn't have to ruin your day. Stay calm, plan ahead, don't forget to use the bathroom ahead of time. Safe travels!

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