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The LTO’s Comprehensive Driver’s Education module lists down the ways we can avoid succumbing to road rage inspired by the teachings our moms gave us

Whenever I get to drive for my mom, she always ends up being stressed by my antics on the road. Blowing the horn, holding my lane, not tolerating an erring driver from getting ahead, berating others in silence for not following road rules.

Like many others out there, I am the kind of driver who is focused on being right all the time. And my condescending stance on the road shows in my driving. Oftentimes, my mom, in all her wisdom, would call my attention to restrain myself from getting back at the other guy for being in the wrong.

My mom would get stressed whenever I got too close to another vehicle. She would be close to tears even though I was only doing what was expected of me as a law-abiding driver. “There’s no destination worth your life,” she would always remind me. Indeed, we wouldn’t know if the other guy has a gun tucked under his seat, or worse, has no qualms of using it against you.

One only needs to recall notorious road rage cases like the ones of Rolito Go and Jason Ivler, and the many others who have caused people grief. Death by road rage is perhaps one of the senseless instances of loss of life on the road. And yet it persists to this day.

Road rage is such a prevalent occurrence on our roads. Traffic, undisciplined drivers, bad roads, carelessly weaving motorcycle riders, there are a million reasons why you can lose your cool behind the wheel. And you don’t have to manifest rage through darty maneuvers or condescending gestures against other motorists. Even the silence of your restrained inner self can be deafening enough to make your stress levels shoot up.

In about the 52nd minute of Part One of the Land Transportation Office’s Comprehensive Driver’s Education module, road rage is clearly discussed. In all its simplicity, the CDE defines road rage as “An assault in any manner, to another person, resulting from misunderstanding, lack of traffic knowledge, or discourteousness.”

It then states that this may include, “rude and offensive gestures, verbal insults, physical threats and dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver, or non-drivers, such as pedestrians, or cyclists, in an effort to intimidate, or release frustration.” Sounds familiar now does it?

Often we would lose our cool at other motorists who don’t obey traffic laws as religiously as we do. That inner voice in our head would suddenly blurt out, “‘Tang%*@!” To be immediately and emphatically followed by, “Gago!” Even if the other guy did not hear our silent scream, our attitude and disposition on the road has clearly been affected by our inner discourse. And the worrying thing about this is, road rage is more prevalent than we actually see.

According to House Bill No. 5759, or the Anti-Road Rage Act introduced by San Jose del Monte City Representative Florida Robes back in 2019, it is said that 8 out 10 Filipino drivers admit to exhibiting aggressive behavior at least once a year.

Cursing is just one of the initial manifestations of road rage. And in the course of a commute, you can expect your stress levels to escalate as you experience one incident after another. Perhaps even to the point that you just snap at the next guy. How many times have we heard the excuse, “Nagdilim ang paningin ko” after an incident?

Had the bill become law, it would have made road rage, even the attempt of physical attack because of it, punishable by imprisonment of at least six months, up to six years. A fine of not less thanP250,000 would have also accompanied that penalty. The bill has unfortunately stalled and we have never heard about it since.

When I was working in Makati a few years back, I had to drive around two hours along EDSA at times to get from Quezon City to the office. Same again on the way home. And these trips were only about 16 kilometers each way. So imagine the anxiety, worry, and despair building up inside of me each day as I trudged through traffic, dealt with buses, jeepneys, cars and motorcycles cutting into lanes. And multiply that a thousand-fold as other motorists contend with the same everyday inanity on the road.

It got so bad that my girlfriend at the time told me, “You know, you’ve changed. You weren’t this cranky before you got that job in Makati.” And she was right. Daily exposure to this kind of lunacy on the road is not good for one’s health. And if you thought mental health is a legitimate issue for those stuck in the house during this pandemic, try driving in full-blown traffic five to six days a week during rush hour now that we are slowly inching back to normalcy.

But as things begin to return to the way they were, the MMDA has already noted that the volume of vehicles along EDSA since the National Capital Region went on Level 3 a couple of weeks back, is already nearing pre-pandemic numbers. The agency says Average Daily Traffic along EDSA is now at 387,626 vehicles. This was less than 20,000 away from the pre-pandemic data of 405,000 vehicles on EDSA each day. Now that we are at Level 2, with less travel restrictions, and Christmas holiday shopping in full swing, I wouldn’t be surprised if we had already eclipsed that figure by now.

Even while we are waiting for schools to reopen and offices to be fully staffed, we are already feeling the tension of driving again. And with stress, road rage is not far away. Again, the LTO’s CDE, in all its armchair brilliance, lists down the ways we can avoid succumbing to road rage. Keeping distance, letting the angry driver pass you, putting away your pride, and avoiding eye contact are just some of the basics.

Conditioning yourself to focus on your own driving and avoiding commenting on others’ will surely help. Dare I add, even not using your horn, despite the obvious need to do so, can help keep you calm behind the wheel. Counter-intuitive, yes, but it works!

It goes without saying that one should not take matters into his own hand. Letting people be, tempting as it may to castigate others and put them in their right place, is the easiest path away from road rage. The authorities – MMDA, the PNP Highway Patrol Group, local traffic enforcers – it is their job to right wrongs on the road. And if an erring motorist gets away with it now, trust Karma to serve divine justice in the future.

So the next time you find yourself pontificating on the road, ask yourself these questions, “Are you a better person because of it?” “Did the world become a better place because of what you did?” And, “Was it worth it?” If you answered “no” to any of these, then you need to find another way to be God’s gift to motoring.

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