Road monsters

Veteran journalist Lourdes ‘Chit’ Estella Simbulan died Friday night after a passenger bus crashed onto a taxi she was riding near the UP Technohub in Diliman, Quezon City.

The kicker: “The bus driver didn’t stop and sped away after hitting the taxi.”

Buses have always been a bit of a nightmare on Manila’s streets. You see them racing each other down roads both narrow and wide, snaking from one lane to another, narrowly missing other vehicles in their vicinity, then pulling sharply to the rightmost lane to pick up passengers or stopping in the middle of the street altogether, holding up traffic. When switching lanes, bus drivers do their best to shove their buses into the next lane, never mind if there isn’t any available space for them to move into yet. There’s supposed to be a designated lane for public utility vehicles, but both bus and jeepney drivers flout this rule and go anywhere they please on the street.

Private motorists and pedestrians are basically helpless against them. It’s been known to happen that when a bus runs over someone, the driver opts to just kill the injured pedestrian completely, since funeral expenses are much more affordable than sending someone to the hospital. As for motorists, since we all have much much smaller vehicles than buses, we can’t do anything more than just blast the car horn to express our displeasure with them, even if the driver will either just laugh and ignore it or fail to hear anything altogether, since more likely or not, he would have careened off to another lane already, mere seconds after inconveniencing you.

The unfortunate part is–if you don’t consider all the above unfortunate yet–is that you can’t do a thing against bus drivers. Wala ka namang laban eh. Even if you manage to accost the driver who wronged you and demand that he own up to what he did, he’ll just scratch his head sheepishly (if you’re lucky. You’re bound to find someone who’s going to fight back defiantly.) and say, “Naghahanapbuhay lang naman ako. Mahirap lang naman ako eh, wala akong pambayad niyang nasira ko sa sasakyan mo (I’m just making a living. I’m poor and I can’t pay for the damage I did to your vehicle).” As if working and earning your keep gives you the right to recklessly endanger lives and damage other people’s property. Even if they do get apprehended and have their licenses taken away, most of them would know someone over at MMDA or LTO, so they can get their license back and be on the road terrorizing people yet again.

Unfortunately, buses don’t seem like they’re gonna go away anytime soon. Buses have mushroomed to an incredible number that most of the time, you’ll see quite a number of empty or not even half-full buses plying the roads. Bus operators have an unusual amount of power over the government here, and they even had the audacity to behave arrogantly and protest when a number coding scheme was introduced for buses. It’s funny, though, that they don’t seem to wield enough power over their drivers to teach them that they should drive properly, know what the traffic rules are, don’t kill people, and don’t drink or take any drugs while you’re driving.

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I’m not exempting FXs, taxis, jeepneys, and trucks from this rant, either. They’re all just as guilty of the above as buses are. Jeepney drivers stop their jeepneys in the middle of the street for a chat, for fuck’s sake. And I’m certainly not saying that private motorists are completely innocent. Speed demons roar down the road, plenty of drivers have an unfortunate habit of either failing to turn off their signal light or using the wrong signal light, and then there are those who seem to decide out of nowhere that you pissed them off and drive alongside you, threatening to ram the side of your car, or cutting you off abruptly.

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On a semi-related note, my boyfriend TJ and his mother were heading down Commonwealth Avenue yesterday afternoon when a truck suddenly cut them off from another lane, clipping their side mirror and hurtling faster down the road after doing so. TJ’s mother gave chase for a good few minutes and when they caught up, they really couldn’t do more than verbally confront the truck driver, who acted like nothing happened. It just goes to show that people will absolutely refuse to be held accountable for their actions on the road (and in life, too) and will do everything they can to see if they can get away with things.

May 14, 2011 by Lynn
Categories: Grr - 2 comments

Comments (2)

  1. “and don’t drink or take any drugs while you’re driving.” – uhm, does that mean that if they aren’t driving, it’s ok to do so? hehe

    • Totally up to them, not my place to tell people to stop. It’s all good so long as they don’t drink or take drugs while driving or if they intend to drive.

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