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Last week, we showed you how to deal with the vehicular villains you encounter while taking public transport. This time we take a look at six more stress-inducing stereotypes: the drivers (and taxi-drivers) who make our daily commute a living hell.
Everyone knows you’re not supposed to be on the phone (either texting or calling) while driving. Using the phone while driving slows reaction time (especially if only one hand is on the wheel) and distracts you when the bulk of your attention should be on your driving. That’s what annoys everyone so much: you’re not just putting yourself at risk, but the people around you. If you’re guilty of this, buy a Bluetooth headset for your mobile phone like the iTech Clip D Radio or the iTech i.VoicePRO so you can keep your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock. Make sure the person you’re talking to knows you are driving—it’s polite to keep the call as short as possible and to save surprising or distressing news for another time.
Sure, you’re in a rush to get to where you’re going. So is everyone else. But you’re the only one making everyone compensate when you weave between lanes, sticking your car into every available opening. The risk to yourself isn’t something you think about, but you can be sure the people around you are thinking about the risk to their cars. And if you cause an accident while swerving, that will mean even more road time thanks to the increase in traffic you’ve inspired. If you’re guilty of this, try mapping your route and checking out alternatives so you don’t have to go through heavily trafficked areas. Better yet, leave early and remove the need to rush.
This doesn’t apply to actual grandmas—because if you’ve got grandkids and you still drive your own car, that’s six ways to awesome since too many of the older generation decide to give up their licenses (and with them, a measure of mobile independence). Instead, this title goes to you if you drive like a granny, inching along the highway as if your car has a severe case of arthritis and you’re afraid it will fall apart if you go past 40kph. That’s fine, and certainly your prerogative—as long as we’re not in the long line of cars crawling along behind you. If this is the way you drive, try finding routes with lighter traffic or staying off highways where you are expected to go fast. You may also want to consider going back to driving school so you can gain more confidence in yourself as a driver.
THE TAXI THIEF
Say you’re desperate to get a taxi, but when you make it to the curb, someone else is already trying to hail one. Do you walk a little and try to hail a cab a few yards away (so the cabs on your side of the road will see you before the other person) or do you wait until your fellow commuter catches a cab then catch the next one? Too many people “steal” cabs out from under others, and it can really frustrate the person who has been waiting longer. Show a little fairness and wait your turn. If cabs are scarce, find out where the other person is going—maybe you can share a cab if you’re going the same way, and you’ll save money too. Who knows? You might even meet someone interesting.
Just about anyone who’s had to take taxis has encountered this predicament: the taxi driver is willing to take customers, but only if they’re headed to places he wants to go to. Think there’s nothing you can do to correct this behavior? Think again. Report his behavior to the LTO Hotline or DOTC Action Center (more information at the bottom of this article) and he may be sanctioned for his refusal. Just threatening to report him may get you what you want, but make sure he can’t retaliate by taking you to your destination using a roundabout route—know how to get to where you’re going. To avoid this problem altogether, you may want to develop a preference for cab companies that have a no-refusal policy.
THE MARKUP MAN
Some cabbies will refuse to take you where you want to go. Then again, some will take you where you want to go—but only if you pay a premium. These “dagdag drivers” will ask you to add an amount they may or may not specify to the basic fare (frequently 20 or 50 pesos, but this can go up to 100 or more). Other tactics may involve turning off the meter and charging you a flat fee. They may say they’re charging you extra because where you want to go is some distance away or they’ll have to sit through traffic to get there. These are not valid excuses. You can report these abusive taxi drivers to LTO or DOTC (more details at the bottom of this article), which may result in fines or a suspension of their licenses. Just informing your driver that you know he is not allowed to charge you extra may make him back off. You may also want to reward good behavior by tipping your cabbie if you know he took you a long distance or through a heavily trafficked route without complaint.
For more dope on terrible taxi drivers, check out Lourd de Veyra’s article, “Taxi Drivers from Hell,” on Spot.PH. You can also visit Alfredo Palconit Jr.’s blog entry on tips for getting a cab in the metro.
To report an abusive taxi driver, make sure you note down the date, time, plate number, taxi company, and (when possible) the taxi driver’s name (it’s best to do this for every taxi ride, and text the information to a friend as a safety precaution), and report these to LTO Hotline (921-9071) and DOTC Action Center (7890). Reported taxi drivers may face a fine and/or have their driver’s licenses temporarily suspended for their violations. If you’re in Makati, you can also report these to the Makati Command Center.
Stay alert on the road, and be considerate as well. Knowing how to deal with these vehicular villains will make you feel empowered and take the edge off your daily commute. Then you can keep your cool on the road and arrive in style.
Want to read the first installment of this two-part series? Check out the vehicular villains on buses, jeeps, and trains.