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Top Gear Philippines

Signal lights and driving in the Philippines

You're familiar with your car's signal lights, right? Their purpose is to allow you to inform other motorists around you that you're either turning or switching lanes. Not only do they exist for road courtesy, they're there more importantly for everyone's safety. Imagine motoring without signal lights. It would be utterly chaotic, with fender-benders happening as often as drivers feel the urge to get ahead of others. Which is like all the time.

Here's the thing: In the Philippines, many drivers would rather not use their signal lights when moving into another lane. Why? Because they know that the moment they do so, the vehicle behind them in the lane they're switching to will speed up so that they don't manage to squeeze in front. What the actual F is that?

It's the funniest sight in the motoring world, I swear. In fact, one of these days I will use a video camera and aim it at my side mirror just to document this comical Filipino driving habit. It never fails: Flick your signal-light stalk to either direction and then watch the vehicle well back of you race to the spot you're politely asking to take.

This, of course, has created a community of rude drivers. Drivers who think the worst of their fellow motorists, assuming that the latter are always out to put one over them. Why is that? Why can't we give the other person the courtesy he or she deserves, and sacrifice--what?--three, five seconds in the process? Would it really kill us if we let the other driver through? Would it ruin our entire day if another car managed to move in front of us?

The truth is that we have a selfish me-first mindset, preferring to screw the normal traffic flow just to get our way. We never fall in line. We cut into a long queue just because. We do not even know what the "zipper" principle is (when two lanes are merging into a single one, the cars in each lane take turns going into the single lane). We vigorously honk at the car in front of us the millisecond the traffic light turns green.

We detest waiting. And yet we think nothing of wasting other people's time.

This has to stop. Respect the signal light. Let others through. It feels good, I promise you.

 

Vernon B. Sarne
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