October 3, 2023

The manner of driving has changed through the years. From defensive driving, most people on the wheel have become offensive drivers. No patience, no courtesy and no giving way to other motorists. Every car is always on a rush, beating red lights, sneaking through the blind side and making one-lane roads two-way. The attitude is “I come first, you go last.” Every day on the road is a drag race. A car is eked in by the driver on every conceivable space with the thought of overtaking others on the road. This kind of driving has, to a large extent, affected our lives. Due to the lack of discipline, there is chaos and traffic all over.
Why the sudden change in the attitude of drivers? Whereas before, we were taught that driving is a pleasant experience and a way of gaining friends. Not anymore. Driving around the city is becoming more depressing that the danger of suffering stress is more than the daily grind of work. The chance of making enemies due to the enmity brought by offensive driving is as likely as sun rise. Many lives have died due to road rage.
In the 1970s and in the 1980s, the word “road rage” was a non-existent phrase. There was no such thing such as drivers picking up a fist-fight or killing one another due to anger or loss of self-control. Maybe, “road rage” existed but it was more about minor spats. These kinds of misunderstandings were more of the exception than the rule. At the time, drivers did not arrogate unto themselves the right to criticize the manner by which others drive. They give the benefit of the doubt by responding to any challenges with an apologetic smile. Not that people during those days were cowards. They were gentlemen. As such they grant a leeway for a reasonable settlement. In that way, a gruesome or a bloody confrontation is avoided.
The multiplication of vehicles on the road produced a new breed of drivers who are unconcerned about ethics and discipline. They have radicalized driving by making it a privilege rather than a talent. They’d drive maliciously and with such bad intentions that they seize the roads as if it is their own. Because this new breed of drivers has shown no remorse and are tolerated, others who have shown restraint in the past are unknowingly and unwittingly becoming bad drivers themselves. Just to cite an example.
We know how some taxi, jeepney, bus, truck or private drivers drive. They cut through lanes, stop anywhere, overtake on the left and on the right, screech on their clutch to gain momentum, tail-gate, beat the red light, sneak through traffic, turn wherever and whenever it is convenient for them, speed through pedestrian lanes, etc.
We see these things happening every day. Such manner of driving is detestable. Yet, because we hate it too much, it angers us and in being angered, we retaliate by emulating the way they drive. Unconsciously, we are influenced into becoming like them. We become lousy drivers ourselves. We start cutting lanes, over-speeding, beating the red light, overtaking the wrong way, all because we want to vent our ire on the driver who drove that way. We don’t want the rogue driver to be more nakakalalaki than us. We want to vindicate our pride by proving that we are as much capable of driving like him. By the time the anger subsides and we realize that we were carried away by the wrong emotion, it is too late. The things we want to avoid on the road might have already happened. Either way, we lose.
It is ironic that in driving, it is the bad drivers who influence the good drivers. Perhaps, it is a psychological thing. It is more mental than anything else. If this is the case, isn’t it about time that we reverse the trend? Why not let good driving influence bad driving? No matter how difficult it may be, try to be an ambassador of good driving. How to do this is simply a matter of changing your attitude.
Keep the lanes open even if others won’t. Obey traffic rules and regulations even if others don’t. Give way to other vehicles even if others can’t. It is like following the golden rule: “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.” If you do not want other vehicles to cut you on the road, do not cut them. If you do not like other cars to sneak in front of you through traffic, do not sneak in front of others. You see, if you keep on behaving like a good driver, sooner or later the others will do the same.
It may be difficult to change the culture of driving but, it can be done. Try starting with yourself.