Instilling discipline

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

Why were countdown timers suddenly shut off in intersections where a No Contact Apprehension Program (NCAP) is in effect? The counters are helpful because motorists are given the warning to start slowing down if they won’t make it across in time. When there are only a few seconds left, they simply stop and wait for the next green light. The result is more motorists follow traffic lights properly. There is an American study showing motorists make better decisions when the intersection has a countdown timer. Instead of flooring it to beat a red light, motorists start slowing down when there are only a few seconds remaining.

But now, the counters are turned off. Does the MMDA or the PNP want to catch more motorists who run the lights? Why? For extortion? Is it to impress their superiors by turning in a lot of traffic citations, and bringing in funds from fines? There is no explanation why the counters disappeared. So, motorists are advised to be careful as these intersections seem like traffic traps instead of instilling discipline among motorists. The MMDA also plans to remove the countdown timers within two years and replace them with a new adaptive traffic light system that will monitor the volume of vehicles passing through the intersection before changing the light. I doubt if a system like that is better than timers.

On the topic of discipline, I believe the MMDA should start acting on the excessive lack of discipline of many motorcycle riders. I am thinking of putting a dashcam in the car to video undisciplined drivers. MMDA traffic enforcers often issue reminders to obey traffic laws, including knowing what the lines on the road are for. Take for example a solid white line. This means staying in the lane and only crossing when necessary. A solid white line should not be crossed. There are traffic enforcers who make a living out of those caught crossing the solid white line at certain busy intersections. Riders always cross them. They often counterflow when nearing a stoplight. And traffic enforcers seem to tolerate them. But when a car counterflows, they are immediately flagged. Not a day goes by without an altercation between riders and drivers. Often the reason is the sudden overtaking of riders on the right side of vehicles and then swerving to the left. These altercations can be avoided if everyone is disciplined, be it riders or drivers. But that may be asking for the moon.

The NCAP should work hand in hand with countdown timers. Singapore continues to use them. We know how disciplined Singaporean drivers are. We may be a long way from Singapore, so every little thing helps.

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