I've done some driving in Malaysia and there were times when what was happening around me made me shout out loud, so let's say it can be an experience!
Malaysia actually has a pretty good road system, with highways linking the main cities north to south. Obviously the cities are really congested, and in remote rural areas the road conditions deteriorate rapidly.
Malaysia also has one of the worst road death rates in the world.There are 23.8 deaths per 100,000 of the population. To put that in perspective, the rate in the US is 11.1, and in Britain it's 3.8.
However, 48% of all vehicles in Malaysia are motorbikes, and 53% of all road fatalities are motorcyclists.... so having some metal around you is an advantage.
Driving around Malaysia is not as bad as some parts of S.E. Asia, but you will have to drive very defensively to stay safe.
I'm just remembering a taxi ride up the east coast (300km - 3 taxis. We missed our bus) and it was scary, but mostly because the driver seemed to have a death wish, it would have been a lot safer if I'd been behind the wheel instead of Mad Max. over 8 years ago
Generally it is safe to drive in Malaysia. However, similar to driving in other countries, be alert and be aware of your environment. Malaysian drivers have this bad habit of not using the left and right signals. A lot of my expat colleagues find this to be most annoying. Buses and lorries tend to speed just because they think they are bigger than cars. If other drivers honk, flash their lights or tailgate you for no reasons, just ignore them and when it is safety, move away from them. So again, be alert. Driving here can be quite scary but you will get the hang of it after 2 - 3 days. Oh ya, if it rains, drive slowly.
Phil is right, taxi drivers drive like they have a death wish. If you are uncomfortable with the speed your taxi is traveling at, just ask the driver nicely to please slow down and that speed scares you. My company does this all the time with taxi drivers, reminding them to slow down and not to use mobile phone while driving.
I hope you have an enjoyable trip :) over 8 years ago