crazy drivers abound…

Scribbled down on December 20th, 2005 by she
Posted in Where No Flan Has Gone Before

Traffic is nowhere near as nuts here as it was in India – there are no cows or oxen in the middle of the roads and far fewer mopeds and motorcycles, pedestrian seems to stay on the sidewalks rather than sitting in the middle of streets, etc. However, driving in Manila is definitely an experience unfamiliar to most Westerner’s. Paul had obtained his international driver’s license prior to arriving, but after a few taxi rides around the city decided it would be a good idea to avoid driving here. Drivers don’t tend to stay in their own lanes (on the bright side, at least there are lanes painted on the roads and all the roads I’ve seen so far are paved) and all take part in a complex dance of weaving and bobbing between other vehicles. Like a FedEx Hub, drivers are continually honking their horns to advise others of their locations and intentions. Despite all of this, driving is less wild in Manila than it was in Bangalore. Cars don’t tend to drive at excessive speeds – we’d be lucky to get over 40km/h here – and I’ve yet to see a serious accident or read about on in the newspaper.

Note: I owe a huge thank you to Coi A., a co-worker in the Philippines, who took the time to correct my understanding of how the car licensing system works in Manila.

To reduce traffic congestion, cars are not allowed to be on the road at all times. The traffic scheme is fondly called the “color-coding” scheme, why it’s called color-coding is beyond me. License plates which END with particular numbers are off-limits on the roads from 7am-7pm on their assigned days. Thus, vehicles with license plates ending in:

1-2 – off limits on the roads on a Monday
3-4 – off limits on the roads on a Tuesday
5-6 – off limits on the roads on a Wednesday
7-8 – off limits on the roads on a Thursday
9-0 – off limits on the roads on a Friday
Saturday and Sunday are free-for-all days.

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