Drivers from hell

>> Thursday, June 8, 2017

Alfred P. Dizon

BAGUIO CITY – I was driving up Teacher’s Camp here Thursday near the National Police Commission building Thursday morning when a taxi speeding down suddenly invaded my lane. If I didn’t turn the steering wheel to the right fast, a collision could have ensued since the taxi nearly scraped my car’s side.
I was not able to get the taxi’s plate number but it was obvious, the driver could have been high on drugs, was sleepless, drunk or had a bad day and just wanted to take it out on someone.
Most taxi drivers now in Baguio, observers say, seem to have come straight out from hell due to their recklessness and rude ways. Gone are the days when taxi drivers of this summer capital were regarded highly for being honest with good manners.
The new breed doesn’t care about traffic rules. They invade lanes, like those coming up along Calderon Street near the Benguet Prime Hotel. Never mind if those coming from Session Road get stuck due to the traffic jam these nincompoops cause.
There are a lot more horror stories about public utility drivers like those plying the Trancoville and Aurora Hill routes. They load and unload passengers below the overpass from Harrison going to Magsaysay Road and could stall there for eternity waiting for passengers even if the site is a no loading, unloading area.
The cops manning the area don’t seem to mind like those patrolling the old Tiong San building beside Malcolm Square area where these jeeps stop and wait for passengers even if these are no loading areas. If the traffic situation in Baguio has gone from bad to worse, observers say it is because of PUJ drivers who lack road courtesy like giving way to another vehicle to ease gridlock.    
It is a wonder where these sanamagans got their drivers licenses.
That is why, it is a welcome development that the  Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) is seeking to standardize the training of public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers nationwide “to develop their skills and to ensure road safety and discipline” by putting up a driver training academy program for their ilk.
According to LTFRB board member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada, the initiative to establish a driving academy for PUV drivers is part of the Department of Transportation‘s vision to modernize public transportation in the country.
“All PUV drivers will be covered by the academy,” Lizada said. “We need them to be retrained on road safety such as knowing different traffic signs and markings. Many accidents on roads could have been prevented if there are safety nets in place.”
In line with this, the LTFRB has sought the help of the Ateneo School of Government and the De La Salle University psychology department to create courses for the driver training academy program. The agency is supposedly set to sign a memorandum of agreement with the educational institutions later this month, with the Ateneo School of Government providing modules on road safety while the DLSU psychology department will offer lessons on anger management and road rage.
“We have observed that there is lack of competency exams for road safety in government agencies,” Lizada added. “For instance, how to deal with road rages and prevent them from happening. That is the reason why we partnered with reputable academic institutions to seek for their assistance. We are grateful for Ateneo and La Salle for giving their support to this initiative.”
Under the program, PUV drivers will undergo seminars and examinations to evaluate their skills and competencies. Those who pass the exam will reportedly be given an identification card that’s valid for one year and may be renewed thereafter.
The LTFRB also plans to implement the seminars on a graduated basis–free of charge to PUV operators and drivers–depending on the level of qualification of drivers.
Through the program, the LTFRB also hopes to consolidate a database for PUV drivers that will monitor their compliance with traffic rules and regulations which will also be shared with the Land Transportation Office (LTO).
“It will be a prerequisite for PUV operators to only hire drivers who undergo and passed the training academy,” Lizada said.
The driver training academy program follows the DOTr’s pronouncement that it seeks to modernize the jeepney by phasing out the current ones in use today for modern ones that use Euro IV emission-compliant engines.


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