SLEX Traffic woes

Yesterday I unexpectedly attended the Ateneo’s MBA freshmen orientation after being told by our professor that she highly encourages us to be there even though its schedule is in conflict with our Information Technology class, thus she’s allowing us to be out of our first session.Since I didn’t anticipated being there and that I didn’t anticipate as well that I’ll be coming home late in the afternoon instead of lunch time, I decided that it is best that I drive my way back to Cavite via the south Luzon expressway (SLEX) instead of the coastal area after seeing in the morning that traffic at some part of it has worsened due to the flooding after typhoon Isang sent torrrential rains.

From the Rockwell area traffic flow was surprisingly fast but just before reaching Bicutan, it slowed down as if on cue. Although I was expecting it to be that way as I’ve heard from the news, I didn’t know that they’ve actually set a very long counterflow which I soon learned starts in Alabang. Thankfully, traffic loosened up after I reached the Filinvest exit. But it was short-ived.

The moment I approached the Total gas station in Ayala, traffic once again began to crawl and it remained that way until just before where the Daang Hari road starts. What made is frustrating though is when I learned what actually caused the build up is just the road which is more or less just 50 meters in length but is now as cratered as the moon’s surface. Man, that reminded me of the DPWH informercial where smiling public officials proudly declare their “accomplishments”.

Well, today I sort of retract back all the spite I had from yesterday’s ordeal. It is because our drive from Cavite to Batangas started to pick up speed as soon as we exited Carmona. As a proof, I was able to maintain around 120 kph until we reached the Calamba toll gate where once again, every car and motorist got stuck due to the still on-going construction in that area. This time I’m not disappointed since I’ve seen how a lot of progress have been made since this SLEX improvement project started. By the looks of it, they might complete it as planned sometime in 2010. All my fingers are crossed.

***

Yesterday’s drive was also quite alarming due to several encounters:

  • I had a near miss when somewhere in Baclaran I saw a taxi swerving to my lane and upon hitting my brake and punching my horn, he braked so hard that I heard his tires screeching almost to a stop. Some people just don’t deserve to drive.

  • While idling at an intersection near SM Molino I saw one street kid approach me but he not only knocked on my window to beg, but I also saw him lift the door knob on my side. I let it pass, but I only remembered about the modus when after he left one of the passengers of the car beside me opened her window and said, “he was trying to open you door”. That warning reminded me of what I’ve read from one of the car forums that some unscrupulous group operates this way. They send one innocent looking kid to check on car doors. Once they see that the doors can be opened, they will come out from nowhere and will immediately enter that particular car and divest whatever they can. It’s alarming knowing that as early as now, instead of the Christmas season (ironic, huh?), these people might be already starting their activity again.

 ***

I now describe the SLEX as the Philippine’s own version of Germany’s Autobahn. And I’m now calling it AutoBat (for Batangas). Right now, what this highway lacks, among other signs, is speed limit marks. So until the time when these are put in place, this highway is basically free for all and it means speed here is controlled more by the sanity of the driver behind each wheel rather than the speedometer in front of them – assuming it works. Hopefully, our beloved DPWH officials won’t wait for the time when accidents begin to happen before they act upon this safety concern.

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

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The two sides of the story behind a car accident

It takes two to tango” – Anonymous

 

The Monday morning and prime time news is filled with news about accidents, most of it tragic, involving motorized vehicles. While watching it on TV I can’t do anything but shake my head in disappointment that once again, lives have been wasted and worse, others are lost just because someone failed to drive safely – especially nowadays that rain has made our already bad roads more perilous to drive at. All these pictures of wreckage, twisted metals and bodies, blood and grief sent flashbacks of my own bad memories.

I personally had experienced a costly driving accident that hounded my wife and I for days, even weeks. Although obviously the fault was ours, it could have been avoided by the other driver. That split-second collision played over and over again in my mind like a bad sports replay. Even with the lack of surround cameras, I can almost imagine what took place from all angles. And as much as I’d like to forget it and move forward, I can’t help but still think about so many what ifs and only ifs: If only there were no blind spots; if only my wife didn’t cross the next lane; if only the involved tricycle driver drove cautiously knowing that he’ll pass by a busy village entrance. If only he had braked just in time. What if we weren’t used to wearing our seat belts? What if the tricycle driver went completely through his windshield. I could only ask these questions and more, and yet not even receive definite answers. And even if they won’t admit it, I’m quite sure that the other party had their own regrets as well.

Just like that personal story, so much similar incidents happened and sadly, still keeps on happening as if most of us don’t learn from the repetitive news. Let’s take a look at the recent accidents that we have either witnessed right in front of us or just saw on the news. More often than not, we’ll see that each driver will try to reason out and give their very best to point the immediate blame to the other. It is also very likely that each party will claim that they have the right of way and that one didn’t yield as expected. It is always a hopeless and frustrating battle of one’s word against the other but the real truth behind it all is that the accident won’t happen had ONLY one honestly practiced defensive driving.

It appears though that more of this will continue to occur if we don’t do something about it – like having the common sense. With the traffic volume almost increasing every year, despite the recession, it is expected that travel time will increase, people will rush, drivers will become impatient and in effect become more aggressive. It is when rush hour ironically becomes a time when traffic slows down and it is also when people’s heads get hot sometimes even hotter than their idling engines and it is these hot heads that will likely to blow off steam way ahead of their car’s overheating radiators.

So with such condition making a perfect brew for an accident, a fender bender at the very least, it is usually hard to pinpoint who actually was at fault. It is easy though to have our own prejudice take over. For example, an innocent looking female yuppie is likely to get the sympathy (normally from curious crowds AKA uzis) over a ragged looking jeepney driver during a traffic accident investigation. Likewise, it is also easy to direct anger to someone who has hit a pedestrian than to ask why the pedestrian crossed a non-ped xing zone in the first place.

For me, who has been into an accident, I fully understand that when accidents such as these happen, there are always two sides of the story to be heard – that is, if one is lucky enough to survive it and be able to share his. But whatever the reasons are, one thing will remain clear and certain; that whatever the results of the investigations (and media coverage) are, during these times there aren’t any winners but only losers coming from both sides. So let’s all help preserve life (ours and others) while on the road by driving safely, by driving responsibly.

 

Photo credit:

Brave Heart (from Flickr’s Creative Commons)

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!  

 

My First Blog, Actually

(I was browsing my multiply.com site and saw this one hidden. Then I remember, this is my first shot at doing a blog. Since I’ve also posted this in our company’s internal site, I deleted its name here. (hint: Only the paranoid survive)Some of the practices in this blog though may not be true anymore. Rest assured, I still respect the Pedestrian lanes.)

I like walking around our company’s campus a lot. Why? Because it is here where most, if not all drivers would abide by the speed limits placed on designated lanes. It is also where drivers and commuters wear seat belts too; motorists would patiently wait for the pedestrians to safely cross the street before they proceed driving. In today’s world, this is almost too ideal.

Day in, day out this commendable practice goes on inside this pedestrian-friendly campus. Lately though, I’ve observed that the entrance gates seems to look like pit lane entrances and the exit gates like pit lane exits. The former is where speeding employees would brake to follow minimum speed & the latter, is where outgoing employees would rev their engines & hit the gas and dash to their destinations just like F1 racers do. I always wonder if these gates are warp zones where every driver is zapped into a different world from where they’re currently are.

Frankly, I was guilty of this act too. I’ve been driving back and forth for almost one and a half-year already. I admit I drove like hell outside the campus during the first year. It was a very good thing (company name) had this on-line Defensive Driving course & it got me enlightened somehow. Still, I would still drive aggressively but would be cautious, up to the extent of counting thousand 1, thousand 2, thousand 3…to estimate my distance from the car in front of mine. At least.

Then this time came for my wife to learn how to drive. Eventually, I came to be her “boot-camp” coach whenever she would drive to and from work. I was wondering every time though that despite my conscious effort to lecture her on the proper and safe way to drive, we would end the driving sessions in frustration and disappointment.

What went wrong then? Well, I’m a firm believer that “a good teacher, makes a good student”…in this case, teacher – me, student – wife…bad teacher, bad student. It was this driving encounter that made me realize that I could be a big factor indeed. How can I expect her to follow what I’m teaching if she doesn’t see me doing it. And so the saying goes “Practice what you preach”.

It’s almost two weeks already since I’ve been driving defensively & coolly. Now, there’s lesser mad honking, lesser unnecessary overtaking, more consideration, and more courtesy. And for those who don’t know, it feels good all the time.

And guess what, just this weekend my wife was on the wheel from our home to our favorite hang-out, almost 20kilometers away & she did perfectly well, almost perfect until it was time to park…but then again, nobody’s perfect. She’s currently grounded. Just kidding.

So please if you value safe driving inside _____ (company deleted), I encourage you as well to do it on your way to and from home. Someone’s waiting for the pedestrians to come home. And so does yours – your family.