An open letter of goodwill to everyone on the road

By Botchi Santos Philippine Daily Inquirer January 08,2020

The New Year brings about new hope, and a chance to start fresh, move on from the past and wish for better things ahead. Hence, I thought of writing a message of hope and goodwill to everyone who uses our roads, hoping that these gentle reminders will help make our travels safer, traffic a bit more bearable, our roads less chaotic, and ultimately, our lives a bit more enjoyable in the process.

To my fellow motorists and drivers:

Remember always to drive conscientiously, avoid weaving and cutting, follow your queue, stay on your lane, signal before turning, look at your left, right and rear-view mirrors before changing lanes, observe the speed limit—both minimum and maximum—and give way to pedestrians, motorcycle riders and electric kick scooter (EKS) who can move faster than you. Don’t drink and drive, and just as important, don’t text or call and drive. Always leave a huge margin for error, always be ready to yield your right of way to smaller bodies on the road (pedestrians firstly, followed by motorcycles, bicyclists, EKS users, and of course other motorists). Leave early, set aside a little more time for traffic so you aren’t stressed and rushing, schedule your trips to avoid useless driving and above all, keep safety in mind. Your loves ones are waiting for you at home, as are all other road users.

To PUV drivers:

We are all on the road because it is an integral part of our lives, commuting from home to work and vice versa. Therefore we must all be conscientious and help speed up traffic flow, avoid weaving and straddling lanes on the road, and most of all, drop-off and pick-up passengers only at designated pedestrian stops. By blocking the road, you set off a chain reaction that causes more traffic and chaos on the road. A little apathy goes a long way. And special mention to bus drivers, please do not bully smaller vehicles on the road. It doesn’t help your image as reputable and respectable members of society.

To the pedestrians on the road:

Follow the stop signs, cross only on designated crossings, use the overpasses made specifically for your safety. Look left and right before you cross the road, avoid jay-walking and don’t text, call or play games while walking on public roads, especially with headphones plugged in. Use the sidewalks too, they are meant for you. You, most definitely, have the right of way, but understand that cars and their drivers take longer and slower to react when you suddenly jump out of nowhere to jaywalk. For you it might seem a game, but for us, it’s the risk of taking your life or limb. Understand the plight of motorists too, we can’t move (or stop) as quickly as you.

To motorcycle riders:

Please remember that you are not pedestrians. You cannot just cross intersections at full speed, and use the sidewalk meant for pedestrians, nor pedestrian crossings as well while riding your motorcycle. Remember that although you may be faster and quicker than cars, cars cannot react as quickly as you, should you decide to sneak up behind them, stay on their blind spot and suddenly overtake at the last minute. Avoid weaving in between cars, as most drivers and pedestrians don’t anticipate a fast-moving motorcycle rider weaving through and lane-splitting when all other vehicles are stopped. You pose a threat to yourselves and to pedestrians, more than anything else. Even if you don’t involve us in an accident, it is traumatic for us to see you get into one you could have easily avoided. We can’t accelerate as quickly as you, but we also can’t brake, stop and steer as quickly as you, which just might be the cause as to why we crashed into you as you tried to squeeze in ahead of us. In the end, we may end up with banged up body parts and scratches on our vehicles, but you risk losing life and limb. Don’t risk yourselves for that last tiny bit of opening, gap or space. We will all get to where we need to, eventually. And, always turn-on your headlights at night and in bad weather.

To electric kick scooter riders:

I applaud you, I laud you and I encourage you brave men and women who take matters into your own hands (legally) to get around the Metro whilst fighting traffic. EKS are a growing number on our roads, and we definitely need more brave souls like them to help decongest traffic, especially if you have regular short trips daily. But bear in mind to avoid major thoroughfares and highways because you often have no braking lights and signaling devices and cannot maintain a speed fast enough to keep up with the rest of the traffic. I have seen a few EKS myself all having brake lights, headlights and signaling devices, but they are mounted very low on the EKS, which makes them difficult to see when riding on a sedan, and almost impossible on an SUV unless they are more than two to three car lengths ahead, more so for HGV (heavy-grade vehicles such as 18-wheeler trucks and articulated trucks, multi-axle delivery trucks, buses and the like). For now, and for your own safety, stay on smaller, less congested and less busy roads. Lastly, wear a reflective vest at night. It’s sometimes hard to see you with your very small and almost non-existent lights mounted low on your EKS, plus glare from incoming traffic doesn’t help, nor does poor street lighting do you any favors.

To bicycle riders:

I envy you guys, because you get to exercise while going to work, you look cool in your bright outfits, and seem to be genuinely having fun while almost everyone else is stuck in traffic. We will give way to you, but remember that the road you chose to share with us is dangerous especially at night and in poor weather: you should wear bright reflective clothing at night so we see you better, use lights fore and aft of you so we can see you further ahead, and try your best to maintain a speed consistent with the general speed of traffic. Stay as much as possible in your dedicated bike lanes and also be mindful of other cyclists, pedestrians, EKS riders and motorists on the road. It might seem self-serving, but in very busy intersections and crossings, you should yield to motorists because cars cannot react and stop as quickly as you can, even if we wanted to. It’s simply the laws of physics.

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