21 June 2007

On Driving in the Philippines

I am not a pessimist but I am almost certain this will not work as far as Philippine drivers are concerned.

Yesterday, the Vatican issued TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR DRIVERS in the hope of correcting what was termed a "host of ills" associated with driving. Uh-huh. I assume they have not driven here in Manila, and they have little idea what driving ills we have here. Filipino drivers are one of the most, if not, the most inconsiderate drivers in the planet!

Let's do some logical reasoning here: The Philippines is proud to be called the only Catholic country in Asia. When the Catholic bosses in the Vatican issues commandments, this will make a significant difference here because erring Catholic drivers will now correct their rotten driving habits. True? FALSE! What can be a greater example of the irony in this logic than witnessing Catholic drivers in a shouting match as they try to race exiting from the Church's parking lot after attending Sunday Mass?

When it comes to interacting with Metro Manila drivers, there is no such thing as logical reasoning or being Catholic. There is just the need to get all the road space you can, drive your vehicle to kingdom come, and no care at all with other drivers. Everyone is considered an enemy or a competitor. It is a daily survival of the fittest jungle in here!

I am sure you have witnessed these:

Both jeepney and bus drivers stop to board and unload passengers in the middle of the road.

Both public and private motorists here blatantly ignore the signs NO PARKING, NO LEFT TURN, NO U-TURN, DO NOT ENTER, NO SWERVING.

Almost all drivers here do not slow down in intersections. They always feel as if they're driving in some kind of illusionary expressway.

The rudest and most savage drivers here are #1- Jeepney drivers, #2- Bus Drivers, #3- Tricycle and Pedicab Drivers, #4- Taxi Drivers, and #5- Motorcycle Drivers. This is my personal ranking. Feel free to disagree.

This traffic sign is the most misunderstood and the most ignored here. This sign is posted in minor busy street intersections and it means a FULL STOP. In other countries, I have witnessed how drivers will slow down upon seeing this sign, even during late hours at night when there are less vehicles on the road. Here, this sign is brushed aside. You will even wonder why traffic enforcers place it in street corners when, clearly, NO ONE pays any heed to it at all. The red (STOP) and yellow (SLOW DOWN) traffic lights suffer the same fate, especially during unholy hours, and during storms when there is no policeman around.

Metro Manila drivers' minds wallow in opposite interpretations --- when they see the yellow traffic light (SLOW DOWN) flashing, they press on the gas and accelerate more to beat the red stoplight. When they see someone driving in front of them signalling to change to their lanes, they speed up (?!?) so as to prevent that driver from making that move. Give and take mindset? No way! For them, it is always, TAKE! TAKE! It almost feels like they own the roads they drive in, and they are too greedy and selfish to let you have even a small share in it.

It is not therefore surprising to see why there is a rising trend in the number of deaths due to traffic accidents over the years. The graph above is even too modest in its estimations. In 2005, there was a total of 11,425 traffic accidents nationwide, and that figure definitely exceeds the limits of the said graph. In 2006, it was even higher. This year, are you expecting anything better??

Errors in judgment, overspeeding, bad overtaking, and mechanical problems account for the main causes why traffic accidents happen here. If you ignore traffic rules and traffic signs, will your driving judgment be any better? Also, how about that addiction for speed? We are no Formula 1 racers, why do we always have to beat the red light?

"Naghahanap-buhay lamang po kami," [We are trying to make a living.]is the common excuse of bus and jeepney drivers when you ask them why they are so rude in the road. What a poor excuse if you consider their counterparts in other parts of the world who can both earn a living and practice courtesy in the road.

How about the police and the traffic enforcers? Are they not doing anything to enforce traffic rules? Well, there's a record of apprehensions here. But looking at the record of frequent types of apprehensions, you see that they might be missing the point. Compare the type of apprehensions with the cause of traffic accident deaths above, and you will see what I mean. They are not addressing the real causes of the problem. Of course, the streetsmart among us will comment that said apprehensions are merely excuses to get "kotong" [illegal bribes] money from errant drivers, and they might be speaking the truth. Arrrgh! What a deep problem this is!

So, will these TEN COMMANDMENTS help, considering most of these drivers are Catholic?
1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

Like the STOP sign, these will all be sadly ignored.

17 reactions:

nikki said...

Hi Doc Emer! I would agree w/ you on this - that Filipino drivers are one of the most inconsiderate drivers. I have driven in 2 countries and took public transportation in several but I have yet to see drivers who can rival Filipinos driving on the road. I find it very stressful to drive on our roads esp during rush hour kasi talagang survival of the fittest. Really sad...

JMom said...

This is almost funny, if it weren't so true! I consider myself to be a pretty good driver, but I would never dare drive in the Philippines. And how would one change something like this? It seems so ingrained in all pinoy drivers.

may said...

same with jmom. i just learned how to drive here, and when i look back, i know for sure i CANNOT drive back home. the thought is terrifying.
i have a friend who just went home and had an experience of being on the road when an ambulance siren went off. her car driver, instead of stopping for the ambulance to pass, followed it. man, that is just so wrong in many levels.

Dr. Emer said...

NIKKI - the Thais can rival us on the road. ;-)

JMOM - as long as everyone is doing it, change will remain a remote possibility.

MAY - follow the ambulance! oh yes! there's also follow the firetruck, or follow the speeding bodyguards of some so-so politician. that's so common here...

bayi said...

The Nepalese drivers can rival all the Thai and Filipino drivers! :)

But back to the Vatican's Ten Commandments for drivers. If drivers observe driving etiquette only because the Vatican has issued the commandments, then it's a sad day. All drivers should observe road etiquette regardless the existence of any set of regulation. But any action that will improve road safety is still welcome because I would be a dreamer if I think all the drivers will voluntarily behave on the road. The situation my be sufficiently alarming for the Vatican to come out with these Ten Commandments for drivers.

leo said...

No amount of cannon law will change the barbaric driving habits of pinoys. The real pain of incarceration like in those 1st world countries will change our bad driving habit faster than the fear of hellfire.

MommyBa said...

Driving in the Philippines is so stressful that's why as much as possible, I just let others do the driving for me. Leo's term is really appropriate. Pinoys are really barbaric on the road.

"The rudest and most savage drivers here are #1- Jeepney drivers, #2- Bus Drivers, #3- Tricycle and Pedicab Drivers, #4- Taxi Drivers, and #5- Motorcycle Drivers. This is my personal ranking. Feel free to disagree." - I totally agree with you on this!!!!

And I just hate it when these drivers say na naghahanapbuhay lang sila. I've personally experienced that when I got figured in an accident with a jeepney driver. Such a shallow reason to be hogging the roads no matter what the cost will be.

Anonymous said...

hi dr. emer this is angel im not sure if you would still be able to read this comment:( anyways upon reading your blog i notice some statistics about the coutry's road accidents.. i would just like to ask if you can share with me your references or sources for this because i am currently working on a research study about defensive driving and the information that im asking you would really be a great help for my reserach hoping for your kind and immediate responce

Dr. Emer said...

Hello, Angel. I do read my readers' comments...when I see them. By any chance, are you my classmate in UP?

Anyway, all the sources for this post are properly acknowledged beneath the images provided. Hope that helps you in your research.

Anonymous said...

thanks for responding:) nope i study at a different school:) anyways i would like to use your blog as part of my reserch is it possible to know your name? if you would permit i would like to quote your statements:)
Thank you very much for your time dr. emer:)

Anonymous said...

i don't think that the pinoys would follow these rules because even the ones who impose and make them are not strict among themselves..they never are good examples to look up to..they should bring up changes among their own lives first!!!

Anonymous said...

hi dr.elmer im having a hardtime speaking in english our prof wants us to choose our own topic and make a blue print out of it like a chart. i choose Traffic in the Philippines as the TOPIC.. Can You give me your personal cause and effects of traffic here in our country thanks hope you can read this..

Anonymous said...

filipino drivers didn't learn how to behave on the road,still very rude,unpolite,abusive,daring to do harmful things while driving,not all but most of them,so there's no changes as long as there is a bad example that can always seen.

Roadethic said...

This is an old post but I can see no difference on the driving habits of drivers in Metro Mania. I think the problem is that most Public Utility Vehicle drivers are mostly uneducated drivers. These are who had someone teach them how to drive but didn't bother knowing road ethics, proper signals and signs. I think we can start by requiring all drivers to be educated on the road. Having that said I started my own blog on that certain topic. Educating drivers on road ethics.:) http://roadethic.blogspot.com/

Dr. Emer said...

Anonymous Angel - Dr. Emer is my name

Anonymous #2 - When I was a student, I did my research and assignments on my own. That was the time when there was no Google yet -- all we had were REAL libraries. Much as I would like to help you, it would be better for you to do your own research work.

Roadethic - Nice proposal, but too quixotic. What do you think is the percentage of Filipino drivers who read blogs or surf the internet? Also, you and I have NO power to require them to get educated on road ethics. That is the government's job.

Anonymous said...

i agree that pinoy driver are not courteous and sometimes arrogant especially public utility drivers but we are very skilled drivers.

but i think it just apply to metro manila and other cities that are to crowded. metro manila has 16 million people compare to california with 12 million people. CA is bigger than the Philippines with less people. just my opinion.

Jim said...

Dr. Emer, your post is a very great one. Opening the eyes of Filipino people to accidents. But i would like to inquire one more thing: of the accident cases listed in the table, how many of these are related to pedicabs?