The art of driving — Filipino style PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 November 2011 13:28

By BEN CAL

The Filipino art of driving differs in styles from defensive driving to reckless drivers who break traffic rules and got away with it.

Reckless driving is the number one culprit in road accidents in the country, which could have been avoided had the drivers observed simple traffic regulations.
The most common violations are beating the red light, over-speeding and overtaking.

Other causes of road accidents are drunk driving, mechanical defects, using cellular phones while driving, road defects, overloading and sudden turn, left or right or U-turn without first stopping to see if there are no incoming vehicles.

Ignoring traffic signs is costly but many undisciplined drivers virtually ignore them completely.

Jeepney drivers are tagged as “king of the road” because most of them just drive and disregard road courtesy, particularly in racing with other drivers in picking up
passengers who crowd themselves a big portion of the street, instead of waiting on the safe side of the road.

Bus and taxi drivers are no different, if not worse than the jeepney drivers in disregarding traffic rules and regulations with impunity.

Always racing against time to maximize their take home pay through the number of passengers they load, drivers of public utility vehicles just stop in the middle of the road in loading and unloading their passengers. Most of the time there are no traffic enforcers around.

As a consequence, this triggers traffic jams and when a traffic officers apprehend them for such violation they would scratch their head before handling over their driver’s license.

This has been an ugly cycle traffic officers have to contend with ever since the advent of modern transportation started in the country, particularly Metro Manila where drivers are hard-headed in following traffic rules and regulation.

Another traffic rule flagrantly violated by some jeepney drivers is their penchant to counter-flow when caught in a traffic jam.

But the most common violation committed by drivers – private or public – is beating the red light.

The drivers just speed away even when the red light is on because “no vehicle” is moving anyway.

This false assumption had caused many accidents at intersections because just as the driver of the vehicle that was supposed to stop drive, the driver of an incoming vehicle where the green light is on was speeding, thinking that the road was clear for him to pass.

In a split second, their vehicles have collided leaving many people dead or seriously hurt.

But the most repugnant trait of road discourtesy by Filipino drivers is their refusal to stop their vehicles when pedestrians are about to cross the street.

In fact, they step up the accelerator to prevent the hapless pedestrians from crossing which is the inherent right of the pedestrians for drivers to give way but not in the Philippines.

Discourteous drivers even curse a discipline driver who stops his car when the red light is on even if no other vehicle is passing through. “Tanga, gago, bobo” are the unkind words uttered by undisciplined to drivers following traffic laws.

In other countries, particularly Singapore, drivers give priority to pedestrians crossing the streets.

Singaporeans also stop their vehicles when the red light even in the dead of the night and no policeman is around. That is sheer discipline ought to be followed by Filipino drivers.

But in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila it is the other way around with the pedestrians at the mercy of erring drivers.

Another bad driving habit of Filipinos is the “I and me” mentality when driving at an intersection when the traffic light is not functioning.

Instead of giving way to the first, second, third and fourth drivers who arrive at the intersection, everybody clogs the road. As a result everyone is caught in a chaotic traffic juggernaut.

The thousands of motorcycles plying the streets of Metro Manila and adjoining provinces daily is another big problem as the riders wiggle out their way – overtaking left and right – to beat the grinding traffic.

Police records show that motorcycle accidents are high compared to other vehicular mishaps. Many defy wearing the helmet despite being required by law. Worse, a motorcyclist rides with him his wife, and two other children, including an infant.

Another hazards are the tricycles and bicycles speeding around busy streets and in many instances resort to counter flow as if they own the road courting disasters.
The time is long overdue for authorities to implement the law against undisciplined and erring drivers to stop their shenanigan once and for all before another road accident happens.

Road mishaps are common occurrence in the country, particularly in urban centers that not a single day that pass with the police not recording traffic accidents in their log book with human error as the main culprit.

The human error factor can be traced to drivers who have not undergone the proper driving lessons and getting their license in a spurious way which the Land Transportation Office (LTO) must look into it seriously weeding out the unscrupulous and reckless drivers.

But pedestrians are equally to blame in many road mishaps as many virtually disregard simple traffic rules such as crossing the street even if the traffic sign is green or not taking the bridge overhead because of laziness.

They take the risk of crossing the busy street because it is the “most convenient” but they are virtually inviting disasters.