Freeman Cebu Business

Passenger seat

ARE WE THERE YET? - Back Seat Driver - The Freeman

Despite calling myself a backseat driver, I, more often than not, find myself behind the wheel of an automobile rather than at the backseat.  This week, I had the rare chance to be the passenger of a driver who had gone through a “professional” driving school program who certified this individual to be road ready less than a year ago, was issued a 1-2 restriction, non-professional driver’s license by the local transportation office, and was driving a compact vehicle equipped with an automatic clutch.

From the get-go, I knew this road trip was going to be quite interesting.  Five minutes into the passenger seat experience, we finally got out of the open air, multi-level parking garage of a mall located in the heart of the business district.  Now, to be fair, I would like to point out that it took the driver three minutes to adjust the driver’s seat, check the mirror, start the tiny machine, and gingerly pull out of the relatively double XL parking slot.  The extra two minutes were spent coming down from the second level of the parking garage onto the toll booth.  And I’m not exaggerating.  My eyes were on the dashboard clock the moment we got into the R/C-sized motor vehicle.

As we headed off our merry way and onto main road traffic, I turned religious.  I began praying to all the gods of all religious denominations for a miracle to provide me with my own steering wheel, gear shift and foot pedals.  Why?  Well, for one thing, in the eyes of a tortoise that’s more than a hundred years old, we were zooming.  But for every other driver on the road, we were a moving traffic cone.  I was pressing my foot hard on an invisible accelerator pedal hoping it would help egg the car to go faster.  But this effort proved futile as we were the only ones who were travelling below the mandated school district speed limit on an open highway.  Well, things couldn’t get any worse.  Or so I thought.

You know that moment when you’re stuck on the innermost lane and the right turn that you’re supposed to take is coming up real fast, yet you’re struggling to transfer lanes because there are too many vehicles on the exit lane?  Well, it was a similar scenario but with almost no vehicles to the right of us.  At half past ten in the evening, there weren’t that many vehicles anymore.  Yet, the driver couldn’t manage to shift lanes.  You could see that deer in headlights look on the driver’s face trying to achieve that feat despite the fact that you could literally open your door, drop an armadillo on the road, and watch it safely cross the remaining half of the road.  And when the driver finally mustered the guts to transfer lanes, our molecule-sized car managed to kiss the only other vehicle on that stretch of road.  It was at this point that I wasn’t able to hold back mental prayers and actually blurted out a two-worded prayer that made food by-product holy.

I will save the second half of the story for another time.  But suffice to say, I had enough experience that night to further solidify my conviction that we should phase out these so-called “professional” driving schools and integrate this to our school curriculum.  These so-called driving instructors can’t teach for squat.  We need real teachers.  Driving instructors who have received accreditations and licenses from international driving academies and institutions and not some lazy, former public utility driver who got his road knowledge from an older and equally lazy former public utility driver who doesn’t know any better.

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