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A list of common driving excuses we have either heard others make, or have dished off ourselves, during the course of our commutes

No one will deny that our motoring scene is much the worse for wear. Slow traffic, congested roads, wanton violation of road rules, lack of discipline, and the list goes on. And the mayhem has been such a normal occurrence, that we take them all to be part and parcel of Philippine motoring culture.

It is easy to point a finger of disdain at the next guy for not obeying a traffic sign, or on a law enforcer for turning a blind eye towards a lane-cutter. Indeed, there are so many things wrong happening on our roads today that it is difficult to even know which problem to fix first.

But as I have said day in and day out in this column, the problems we face on the road, and their solutions all point back to us.

“Wait a minute,” you say. “I’ve practically obeyed all traffic laws ever since I started driving, why have I become part of the problem?” Well, you see it is not just a matter of obeying road signs, speed limits and lane markings. It is also about the attitude you project on the road as well.

Here is a list of common driving excuses we have either heard others make, or have dished off ourselves, during the course of our commutes. I myself am not innocent, and I doubt most of us are.

Feigning ignorance

How many times have we seen an apprehended motorist claim when caught that he did not know of the rule or law he violated? This excuse has been used and abused to the point that traffic law enforcers would, on their good days, let you go with a gentle warning. Mix this ignorance with some condescending attitude however, and you might not be as lucky.

Blustering

Bullying your way out of a ticket is not a tactic you can rely on nowadays. Emboldened by better training and education, traffic law enforcers are more likely to match your belligerence with a debate on the merits of the rule you violated. And why you should still get a ticket. Dropping names of policemen or showing calling cards of high ranking highway patrol officials and politicians may have delivered desirable effects years ago, but chances are these days this will only land you in hot water. And if you’ve had recent success in employing such old school shock and awe tactics, hope that a certain Bong Nebrija isn’t the one busting your baby bottom.

Everyone else is doing it

When one car starts using the shoulder to overtake, or to counterflow because they can, or to cut in line at the last possible moment, it does not mean that you should too. Just because the driver of the car ahead was stupid enough to ignore road rules, that does not give you the license to do the same. Sure, you’ll move forward and get ahead, but that means others will be inconvenienced by your selfishness too. Having the self-discipline to hold back and stay within your limits on the road is a sign that you are worthy of the driver’s license the Land Transportation Office issued you.

It’s only wrong if you get caught

Did you have a bitter life in high school? It is akin to saying that having a “codigo” during an exam is not cheating unless you are busted by an eagle-eyed teacher. People with this kind of attitude do not deserve to be on the road. With this kind of reasoning, one can violate as many road rules he can as long as he makes sure there are no enforcers in sight. Jumping a red light in the dead of night, going beyond the speed limit, ignoring a stop sign, these are just some of those moments when law enforcers would have made you stop on your tracks. You are lucky Subic is probably the only place in the country your shenanigans will not prosper.

Taking the path of least resistance

While traffic may be the great equalizer, having a vehicle that allows you to go over a center island, or negotiate a rutted shoulder to get ahead of everyone else is a surefire way to get out of bind. It also guarantees you will be labeled a jerk by everyone around you. This driver is most likely the instigator of the bandwagon too. So a double serving of karma will likely land on your lap one of these days.

Rationalization

Pocholo Ramirez, the late racing great, had a particular philosophy in life that goes like this, “What’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong.” Simple, easy to understand, easy to practice. If you’ve been caught red handed, spare the enforcers some time and patience and just come out clean. Admit your mistake, accept it, and resolve not to do it again. Law enforcers appreciate this more than a lengthy argument or debate on why you are right and they are wrong. Who knows, they just might let you off with a warning this time.

Bravado

Nothing says “I am macho” more than getting away with a misdeed because you said you can. The “no fear” attitude may be right in a sporting event or a competition, but on the road, where everyone else just wants to get home safe and sound in the least amount of time, taking unnecessary risks is just that, unnecessary. Overtaking on a crest or at a blind corner, barrelling through a deep flood, or not reducing speed during a heavy downpour are just some examples of bravery that can go wrong. Remember, it is not just you using the road.  

Most of us have experienced these scenarios at one point in time, or may have used them as well to get ourselves off the hook. And while we all know no one is perfect, and being human entitles us to mistakes from time to time, making any of the above a regular excuse for our behavior on the road will only lead to more stress and chaos everytime we drive. Do everyone a favor and quit the bad habits. Having the right attitude behind the wheel can save not just people’s time, but also their lives as well.

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