Audacious Katipunan Traffic
Submitted By andifandino
Audacious Katipunan Traffic
by Alexandra Fandino
So far, college in Ateneo has been a huge adjustment for me, from eating and study habits to travel time and means of transportation. For 11 years, the travel time from my house to school was always under 5 minutes and the only traffic I knew was the 20 minute maximum traffic that went on right outside my village. Before June 2013, I was the South girl from Alabang, unaccustomed to long car rides just to get to school. After four months of traveling every day to Ateneo from Alabang, I deem the traffic on Katipunan to be the worst part of my commute. The traffic on Katipunan is bad because of problems arising from infrastructure and traffic management, and conduct.
One of the most obvious reasons why traffic is bad on Katipunan is its vehicle capacity is exceeded. While the Katipunan vehicle capacity is 1,200 vehicles per lane per hour, which compounds to 9,600 vehicles for eight lanes per hour, about 30,000 vehicles belonging to Ateneo, Miriam, and UP Diliman, pass through Katipunan, daily. Vehicles from these schools are not the only ones that use Katipunan, commercial and non-commercial vehicles do too. So, at traffic peak times which last about an hour at seven am to eight am and three pm to four pm, traffic on Katipunan is packed with not only cars but motorcycles, tricycles, buses and trucks, from not only the three schools but commercial and non-commercial vehicles too.
According to Dr. Jose Regin F. Regidor’s study in the Philippine Engineering Journal, infrastructure that fails to serve its purpose and policies that are ineffectively implemented cause traffic. Road signs must be noticeable enough for drivers and pedestrians to actually read the signs, and concise enough so drivers and pedestrians have enough time to read and react to them. Road markings should be clear enough for drivers to understand the flow of traffic. The problem with the road signs and markings on Katipunan is they are messy and confusing. Thus, lanes mix with each other and vehicles indecisively swerve in and out causing traffic. It doesn’t help that the traffic enforcers stand post flailing their arms around, seeming negligent of the traffic rules they need to enforce. Their lack of efficiency in service makes their competency and training questionable, if have they even received the proper training as a traffic enforcer and if they have the skill and intuitiveness to be a traffic enforcer.
Other than problems with infrastructure and inefficiently implemented policies, road accidents is a major factor that contributes to traffic. There are numerous causes for road accidents and these fall under two major reasons. The first is distraction. In a study conducted by students Gutierrez, Canillas, Cleto and Uy, on the Effects of Manual and Visual Distractions to Drivers Performance, they stated that visual and manual distractions cause the driver to divert his attention away from the road, which increases the risk of an accident happening. They illustrated visual and manual distractions in examples such as the use of mobile phones while driving, driving under the influence of alcohol, glancing at billboards, and adjusting the radio. These examples show that if the driver is focused on anything other than driving safely, there is a higher probability of an accident happening, that driving requires the driver’s full attention on road.
The second major reason why accidents happen is conduct on the road. The attitude of a driver is the root cause of traffic not only in Katipunan but anywhere else as well. Their attitudes may not cause accidents but can cause traffic simply by ignoring and disregarding speed limits, road signs, traffic signals, and other road rules. If the driver is reckless, he not only poses a risk to himself but to other drivers on the road as well. The attitude of one driver can influence the attitude of another through the mentality wherein one justifies their actions based on someone’s: they did it, so why can’t I.
The ideal driver is courteous, focused, self-disciplined and knowledgeable on road rules. Such is not the case in the Philippines and everybody knows it. The Filipino driver is generally characterized as impatient and aggressive. Once behind the wheel, a Filipino can turn into a road bully, recklessly in a hurry. Many of these drivers don’t bother with stoplights and have no use for road markings. A four lane road otherwise turns into a six lane road because Filipino drivers are so impatient they squeeze themselves in between lanes. According to MMDA, the most common road rules that are broken on Katipunan which cause traffic are illegal counter flow, tailgating, and failure to give way while turning. Drivers aren’t the only ones on the road but are accompanied by pedestrians. The ideal pedestrian is patient, confident, and also knowledgeable on road rules. Filipino pedestrians on the other hand are stereotyped as audacious and impatient. Filipino pedestrians don’t heed to restrictions or stop, look, and listen. They have no use for sidewalks or overpasses and are audacious when crossing the road, expecting cars to stop in time for them to pass.
Drivers on the road may not have it in their power to improve all the circumstances of traffic but they do have power over the way they drive. They can contribute to minimizing traffic by following the rules of the road and by respecting other drivers. I am not yet a licensed driver nor do I know how to drive but from my experience as a passenger in the past four months, I have observed so many things about traffic, the road, and how people act on it. With these observations, I have resolved to do two things. One, as a passenger, I can contribute to lessening traffic by simply reminding the driver to follow the road rules and as a pedestrian I can influence the others by setting a good example. Two, I want to be the ideal driver once I learn how to drive and when I get my license. In that way, in my own little way, I can lessen traffic. Hopefully, in my efforts to do so, I influence other drivers to change their attitudes for the better starting with a change in my attitude.
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