Driving through TCH

STANDING START - Lord Seno (The Freeman) - January 18, 2021 - 12:00am

The Cebu Transcentral Highway (TCH) has become a haven for reckless drivers and daredevils. I have seen videos of motorcycle riders banking their less capable scooters, emulating what they see in Moto GP, but failing miserably. I have also seen videos of performance cars through the highway with speeds that leave the driver with no margin for errors. 

Just recently, there have been numerous lives lost because of reckless driving in the mountains. As a frequent user of the highway, I am saddened by these, especially when it involves deaths, as what was in the headlines recently. 

They were on their motorcycle going downhill when a pickup truck lost its brakes (so the driver claims) and hit them from the back.

The once enjoyable and smooth ride up the mountains is now a tense experience where you need to be extra careful especially in the corners where drivers cut corners or cross lines.  This while trying to adjust your driving.  It requires an upgraded form of defensive driving.

Obviously, driving up the mountains requires a different style. It is so much different from driving in flat areas. You have to be prepared to maneuverthe steep hills, winding roads, traffic, obstacles like rocks in the roadway, not to mention the changing weather.

It is very important to check your car if it is capable of going up the mountains. Aside from the condition of the engine, the condition of the brakes is very important. Once you lose those brakes in a steep downhill incline, there is no denying you are in big trouble.

It is essential to know the gears that you will use up and down those inclines as it will aid the brakes and stop it from overheating. Even in an automatic transmission equipped vehicle. It will be too long to enumerate procedures but generally drivers use a lower gear to control speeds while going up or down long, steep hills. In manual driven transmissions, 2nd or 3rd gears are usually used.  In automatic gearboxes, switching from 3 to 2 is generally the practice.

Don't forget to check other aspects of your vehicle prior to a mountain trip like steering, suspension, cooling systems, tires and the level of fluids. During the trip, you should avoid overheating the components of your car by driving easy in areas where the mountain plateaus or the stopping over safely in a café. Make sure you park your car properly and not leave any part jotting out of the highway.

Not using the air conditioner while maneuvering steep inclines also works well in preserving the working temperature of the engine.

High altitudes can affect not only the car, but the driver and passengers as well. The higher you go, the lesser the oxygen. I don’t really know it our mountains are high enough to make a difference, but I do know that my ears ring whenever I go up.

The Transcentral Highway also branches out to narrower barangay roads. When navigating these roads, be extra cautious with upcoming traffic. When vehicles meet on a steep, narrow road which is not wide enough for two vehicles, the vehicle going downhill must yield the right-of-way by backing up to a wider place or by stopping to leave sufficient space for the vehicle going uphill, except where it is more practical for the vehicle going uphill to return to a wider space or turnout.

The TCH was made for all of us to enjoy. Let us all be responsible enough to see to it that the TCH remains safe to drive.

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