Caught (up) in traffic

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Risky behavior at intersections

September 2011
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I saw these three vehicles, two motorcycles and a car,  slowly encroaching towards the center of the intersection of Katipunan and C.P. Garcia Avenues last night. The red light was clearly displayed along with the number of seconds remaining that was indicated in the countdown timer installed along the southbound approach of the junction. They seemed to be unaware of the significant amount of time remaining before the green light. Worrisome was their being unmindful of the trucks turning left to C.P. Garcia from the northbound approach of Katipunan. Many of these trucks were the big trailer types that could easily wreck the car or crush the motorcycles should they mistakenly cross their paths. Requiring more space for their turning movements, many trucks encroach upon the second and third lanes from the median and would probably have hit one of the vehicles that were already past the nose of the median island on our side of the road.

There was no yellow box or markings clearly indicating the clear area for the intersection. However, it was quite clear where vehicles should stop considering there was a pedestrian crossing (incorrectly painted as zebra despite the traffic signals) at the approach of the intersection and vehicles should stop before these markings. The driver of the vehicle to our left obviously wanted to follow the example of the black car and already positioned his car over the pedestrian crossing. Is this a manifestation of being swapang or maybe the thinking that you want to be ahead of the rest?

Such behavior and others similar to this are risky and may lead to crashes that could have been prevented if the drivers and riders followed basic traffic rules and regulations. In fact, aside from the potential for road crashes, congestion due to clogged intersections are often due to many drivers and riders not following the rule of keeping an intersection open. Such a rule applies even when the green light is given to a particular movement considering that the intersection exit ahead is already full and further movement and the resulting queue will only block other movements once the lights change. The yellow box is supposed to define “no-man’s land” in as far as designating exactly which space should be clear of vehicles to facilitate traffic flow and as a matter of courtesy among drivers and riders. These are very basic principles in driving and among those consistently and constantly being violated. Meanwhile, traffic enforcers are either ignorant of these rules and prefer to just stick to catching violators of the number coding scheme or playing blind as they may have practically given up trying to enforce the rule while managing traffic. Perhaps they should try harder and be persistent in order to influence behavior change? After all, the last time I checked there are so many other rules and penalties other than swerving or violating number coding.


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