5 Points to Help you Navigate (Drive) in Klang Valley - Why You Should Try Driving Wihtout GPS
When I first started driving, the family car had a GPS unit. It was a standalone unit, not the kind of GPS that comes with the car. We also didn’t have a smartphone yet at this time. The GPS was OK in the beginning but after some time it started to act up. The GPS signal would get lost in the middle of a drive and we would panic. I only drove to familiar places and going anywhere unfamiliar was always nerve wrecking (I was very young).
I didn’t drive for several years after that until I finally got a job. By this time I had my own smartphone, but it was a low-end one and the GPS signal was poor. I was only starting to familiarize with the roads, and my previous driving experience (very dependent on a GPS unit) didn’t really help.
I still needed something to tell me where to go.
So I decided to actually read maps and understand just what the hell was going on as I was driving. Once I got a sense of where districts are in relevance to one another and whether a road is heading North, South, East, or West, I started to become more confident. Hesitation while driving is what usually causes congestion, irritates other road users, and increases the risk of accidents. GPS instructions can sometimes be a tad too late, sometimes unreliable, or distracting. So I urge you (if you haven’t) to study your local geography and improve your sense of direction to make our roads a safer place.
How did I familiarize myself with the roads?
What did I do?
1. Categorize Roads
Categorize roads as horizontal (East-West) and Vertical (North-South). There are things in between like diagonals but I use this as a general guideline to help me figure out if I’m heading in the right direction.
2. Understand Highway Shields
For a start, let’s try to understand the highway shields, and some road name abbreviations in Klang Valley.
Let’s start with the E1 or the NKVE (New Klang Valley Expressway). The NKVE stretches from Bukit Raja to Jalan Duta. Generally it goes horizontal (East-West) with a vertical section through the Petaling Jaya area. But end-to-end, it takes you between the East and West areas of the Klang Valley (refer map). The NKVE, which is the E1, connects to the North South Highway (NSE) which is also labelled the E1. The NKVE is horizontal (East-West), while the NSE is vertical (North-South).
Now, if you take a closer look on the map, you will realize that the NKVE/PLUS Highway is also labelled AH2.
What is AH2?
Asian Highway 2. The North South Highway, apparently, is a part of this bigger highway.
“Asian Highway 2 (AH2) is a road in the Asian Highway Network running 13,177 kilometres (8,188 mi) from Denpasar, Indonesia to Merak and Singapore to Khosravi, Iran.”
This calls for an epic road trip. I shall do this in the future, insyaallah.
OK, back to navigating your way through Klang Valley Expressways.
So now you know what a highway shield is.
If you pay attention to the Exit signboards, they can also help you indicate what highway you are on.
So, the E1 is both the NKVE and NSE
Every Exit on the E1 starts with the number 1
For example, Exit 106 – Damansara
That simply means E1 highway, Exit number 06
And the Exit that comes after this would be….
You guessed it,
Exit 107 (Kota Damansara)
And that means, E1 Highway, Exit Number 07
If you are on the highway and God forbid, you forget what highway it is that you are on, passing through these exits could certainly help you figure that out.
Sometimes, a highway exit number may be missing. I’ll take an example from the North-South Expressway.
though the North-South Expressway, you see the following sequence:
Exit 150 (Bukit Merah), Exit 153 (Bandar Baharu), and Exit 156 (Jawi).
The numbers missing in between (151,152,154, and 155) are just interchanges or exits that have not been built yet but were laid out in the initial plan.
Exit 152 (Alor Pongsu) was only opened in June 2016 so now Exit 152 is no longer missing from the sequence.
How do I know this?
I used to work for a highway company.
It was a good job with great experience.
Now let’s try a different highway. A smaller one – LKSA (Lebuh Raya Kemuning Shah Alam (E13))
The E13 (LKSA) is vertical (North-South) and connects the Federal highway (horizontal) and the KESAS Highway (Horizontal). Notice how these vertical and horizontal roads connect with each other?
Following the pattern we see on the E1 highway, exits on the E13 highway begin with the number 13.
Exit 1303 (Alam Impian) is basically highway E13, exit number 03
The same pattern follows for other expressways.
Here’s a short list of expressways and their shield numbers for you to notice while driving:
E1 – NKVE (New Klang Valley Expressway) / NSE (North-South Expressway)
E6 – ELITE (Expressway Lingkaran Tengah)
E33 – DUKE (Duta – Ulu Klang)
E23 – SPRINT (Sistem Penyuraian Trafik KL Barat)
E26 – SKVE (South Klang Valley Express Way)
Try looking up google maps and look at the orientation of these expressways. It can help simplify navigating your way through Klang Valley.
3. Connect the Squiggly Lines
If you have looked up their orientations, you now have a basic sense of where these roads take you.
Let’s say you want to head East from Klang. Which road do you take? You have choices such as the KESAS (E5), the Federal Highway (2), and the NKVE (E1).
And let's say you want to head south from Petaling Jaya or Kuala Lumpur. You have choices such as the LDP (E11), KL-Seremban (E37), Maju Expressway MEX (E20), or the ELITE Highway (E6).
This might take some getting used to, but it really helps you to decide which ramp you should be taking. You don't want to be the person reversing on the highway because you missed your exit.
4. Understand Relative Location
Do you remember those geography classes back in lower secondary? There was a time where we had to learn ‘Kedudukan Relatif’ or Relative Location. This is just where things are in relation to one another.
“Rumah Ali terletak di utara Rumah Gopal.”
Apply the same thing to real life.
Bangi is South of Kajang, Petaling Jaya is west of Kuala Lumpur, Puchong is south of Petaling Jaya, and Shah Alam is west of Petaling Jaya.
We generally use Ipoh to indicate heading North and Seremban/Johor to indicate heading South when you're on the PLUS Highway.
On the Federal highway (2) we use Klang to indicate heading West and Kuala Lumpur to indicate Heading East.
If you're from Putrajaya and want to head north, follow the Puchong sign.
Take time to observe relative locations and it will be much easier to navigate your way through these roads.
5. Get to Know Federal Trunks & State Roads
OK so a bit on federal roads or federal trunks. Federal roads are roads which are maintained by the federal government, usually by JKR (Jabatan Kerja Raya). The Federal road highway (as some of us call it) is an example of a Federal Trunk. On milestones on the road side, you will sometimes realize labels indicating FT##. The FT stands for federal trunk and the number indicates the road number.
Some federal roads you might have driven on include Road 15 (Subang Airport), Road 1 (Jalan Kuching), and Road 28 (MRR2).
State roads, on the other hand, start with a letter indicating which state - A for Perak, B for Selangor, and C for Pahang.
N: Negeri Sembilan
W : Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur (not used)
Do the letters seem familiar?
If you've managed to connect the dots, yes, the state road letters are the same letters we use for car registration plates.
State roads in Selangor start with the letter B and car plate numbers for Selangor registered cars start with the letter B too. Same goes for most states with exception for Kuala Lumpur.
Once you've familiarized with the points above, go ahead and give GPS-less navigating a go.
I’m not telling you to ditch your GPS, Waze, or Google Maps. I’m just encouraging you to not be too dependent on it. Let’s say you’re heading to a friend’s wedding in Kajang. You already know the general direction in your head (head South-East). You can exit at Exit 210 on the E2 Highway and use GPS/Waze/Google Maps after exiting the expressway.
I don’t do Sudoku or any sort of mental puzzle so I take this as a mental exercise. I hope it helps in avoiding Alzheimer's.
Less hesitation while driving makes our roads safer and smoother.