There are real differences between driving in the U.S. and driving in the Philippines and I have to confess that I’ve been more impatient behind the wheel since coming home from the Philippines in February.
Confession time: I didn’t actually drive in the Philippines but when Menchu and I were in Mindanao back in January, we traveled quite a bit. We went to General Santos by bus, to and from Isla Jardin Del Mar by van and jeepney, to Kidapawan by private auto and everywhere else by taxi or pedicab.
In the U.S., everyone drives. Kids can get a “learner” permit at 15 or 16 years of age and folks are still driving well into their 80’s and beyond. There is a huge blend of driving types and experience on the roads here.
Most Filipinos don’t own cars or drive. They pay for their transportation needs on a per-trip basis. So most of the people who do the driving in the Philippines can be said to be professionals.
At first, traffic flow in a city like, say, Davao, looks like disorganized chaos. After a few trips though, you start to understand that the drivers are actually cooperating. Professional drivers are only interested in getting to where they’re going and since they’re mostly all pro drivers, they ALL understand this about each other.
In the U.S., the driving experience is more orderly but can be very frustrating for drivers with more experience and ability. I have, for instance, never seen a line of cars six-deep in the left lane waiting behind a car turning left in the Philippines. Why not use the right lane to go around the left-turning car? It’s a mystery to me.
I don’t think that I’ve become a more aggressive driver since returning from the Philippines – I don’t weave between cars or drive unsafely – but I have become more interested in getting to where I’m going.
Manila traffic photo is © brownpau and used under Creative Commons license.