Why even try to beat a train?

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

One need not look far to prove the existence of drivers who should not be allowed to operate a vehicle, much less a public utility vehicle. Last Tuesday evening, a passenger jeepney tried to beat a railroad crossing barrier in the process of coming down, because a train was passing. But since traffic was heavy at the railroad crossing, the train still hit the rear portion of the jeepney. Six passengers were hurt. One of them, a female, sustained serious injuries. All were brought by good Samaritans to a nearby hospital. But while five were eventually discharged and allowed to go home, the seriously injured passenger succumbed to her injuries. No one could identify the female passenger because apparently, her bag which contained all of her IDs was stolen by a bystander during the commotion. I can only wish the worst for that vermin. It took a while to establish her identity. She was a clerk at a school.

Why would this driver want to beat the barrier, if traffic was already bad? It is not like he could get anywhere faster. No one believes his story that he did not know a train was coming because aside from the barrier coming down, lights flashing and a bell ringing, his passengers were shouting at him not to beat the barrier. A train just cannot stop on a dime. Once it has gained momentum, only an object heavier than the whole train can stop it dead on its tracks. Which is why engineers start to slow down way before approaching a train station, and also start applying the brakes. It is also during this time that all the warnings at the train crossing start to come on. "Stop, look, and listen" still apply even in this technological age. But because we have drivers who really have no business operating a vehicle, this is what happens.

The driver is now behind bars. Despite all his sobbing on camera, he is still liable for what happened. From homicide to serious physical injury. Many drivers do not pay attention to road signs. I'm certain many did not even pass the "test" that the LTO administers for those applying for licenses. They just get their licenses one way or another. Once on the road, all that matters is to get from point A to point B in the fastest time possible, making money along the way. To think public utility vehicle drivers are required to have "professional" licenses. Nothing professional nor intelligent about wanting to beat an oncoming train.

Obviously, there is a need for personnel either from the PNR, MMDA or even PNP to man railroad crossings. All the devices in place are just too much for some drivers to comprehend or follow. There is a need for someone to physically warn them that a train is coming. There is a need for someone to call their attention, even shout at them because it is the only way these people respond. The same can be said of the "yellow box" rule that the MMDA is trying to enforce, something many drivers just cannot comprehend. Again, it is just too much for their brains to handle.

The "yellow box" rule is simple. Vehicles are supposed to keep the yellow boxes painted on the road open, so vehicles can still pass from a perpendicular direction. There is no sense blocking an intersection if traffic is not even moving. It is as simple as that. But there are still drivers who believe that if they keep on tailgating the vehicle on front of them, they will get to their destinations faster. You can already tell that solving the traffic problem is never going to be an easy task. To quote a friend, "It is hard to soar like eagles when you work with turkeys."


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