Save Yourself, Hire a Driver

Published by indohell on 10 July, 2010

Have you seen Demolition Derby?  Well ... if you're happen to be living in Indonesia, you'll see demolition derby drivers everyday in the streets of Indonesia.  Even worse, not only you find them driving cars, and public transportations such as buses or mini buses, you'd find them driving motorcycles too.  In short, almost every driver in Indonesia is really not decent drivers, and you can't expect them to obey traffic regulations, let alone respect you as another driver.

Nowadays, Indonesia is even worsening with the rise of motorcycles on the streets. Motorcycles have become cost-effective mode of transportation because of lack of decent public transportation. In result, people with very poor educational background (and indeed financially poor as well) can afford those cheap motorcycles. And you can then imagine if you let people with very poor educational background and poor knowledge of safe driving behind wheels, you'll get drivers that not only don't have regards whatsoever to traffic regulations, but also endangering themselves, and YOU.

The worst kinds of drivers in Indonesia are public transportation drivers, and motorcycle drivers. The problem is that they are the largest driver population in Indonesia, and now you can imagine how dangerous it is the streets of Indonesia.

Public transportations are known to always stop where they are not supposed to stop. They don't stop at bus stops, but instead at anywhere they see a passenger waiving at them. So, if you are driving, be very careful of the buses as they can stop to let passengers alight or get on, even when you don't see any bus stops around. The danger is that they can suddenly cut you in just to be able to pull over to the side without any warning whatsoever.

Then, there are motorcycle drivers, who are currently even more dangerous than any drivers in Indonesia, if not the most dangerous. For starter, in their perspective, they don't recognize what we call "lanes". They can drive anyway they want, and the danger is that they always squeeze their way in between cars, until there are only less than an inch. If your side rear view mirrors got rubbed by those motorcycles, well that happens everyday. And don't expect them to stop and give you a gesture of sorry. No sir, they just pretend they didn't know and drive away. Don't even think to try to reprove or refute to them as they could get rough and even come at you angrily. Take it from someone who has lived the experience myself.

Motorcycles in Indonesia is like swarming pests coming all around you. Be careful when you've got swarmed as they are known to always cut you in deliberately. They expect you to hit the brake and let them pass instead of the other way around (being more careful and not cutting people's way). Their perspective is that they are the poor, driving motorcycles, and you're the haves, driving cars, so that you have to give in to them. Amazingly ridiculous, and pathetic, I know. I couldn't believe what I'm learning myself when my Indonesian staff finally tell me about this "belief". But that's the reality in Indonesia, and you'd better just be careful and play along if you want to stay safe.

Even worse, if you're driving in Indonesia, you'll find motorcycles driving against the traffic. Yeah, you read me right, they drive against the traffic, on the wrong side of the streets, and yes, they do it deliberately, and yes, you'll find this scene everywhere you go. What would make you even more angrier is that they don't consider themselves violating any regulation nor your rights (as a good driver driving in your lane), and they'd expect you to give way to them.

So, my suggestion for you is to hire a driver to drive you around. Don't even think to drive by yourself if you don't want to get headache and accidents along the way dealing with those unethical and dangerous drivers. Let the Indonesian drivers deal with another Indonesian drivers. Somehow they think alike, and they have greater tolerance to violations.

I noticed my driver doesn't even get annoyed or pissed off by the behaviors of those unethical drivers. He gives way heartily to those traffic violators and to him it's like the everyday's norm.

Hiring a driver in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta could be as low as Rp 1.500.000,- per month (USD 150) to as high as Rp 3.000.000,- per month (USD 300). I suggest you go with the "all-in" scheme which will cost you well between USD 200 - 300 per month. Living in Jakarta means dealing with traffic congestions every day, so that it's very likely that you'd be with your driver from morning to late in the evening. Don't go with the scheme that goes with overtime fees on top of basic salary for you'd end up paying more than the "all-in" scheme anyway.

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