“PROBLEM” is defined as “a deviation from standard.” Thus, an overheating car-engine is a problem because its temperature has deviated from, gone way over, the standard for an engine to function normally.
The scientific method of looking for the cause of a problem is to check which variable changed. In the case of engine overheating, the main variables are: radiator, coolant, engine oil, fan belt, and thermostat. If the radiator is found to be leaking coolant, it is these two variables that changed and caused the problem. The solution is as simple as repairing the radiator and re-filling it with coolant.
Applying this scientific technique to our traffic problem, the missing variable can be found in the answer to why Filipinos (that drive like crazy here) obey traffic rules when driving in the U.S. Some of us might recall how Filipinos observed traffic rules inside Clark Air Force Base when it was run by the U.S. Air Force.
What is the variable in the U.S. traffic management system that is missing in ours? What is the single critical variable that is so conspicuously absent in our traffic management system? What is it that makes Filipinos toe the line when driving in the U.S., Canada or Australia?
The answer is consistent strict enforcement of traffic rules and regulations. Filipinos are well behaved when driving in these countries because they know the rules are strictly enforced by trained traffic policepersons.
This is the missing variable that explains our traffic problems. Narrow streets and inadequate traffic infrastructure (lights, signs) notwithstanding, traffic will still flow smoothly if trained traffic policepersons in uniform enforce traffic rules strictly and consistently.
The operative words here are “consistent strict enforcement” (meaning unified and without let up 24 hours a day all days of the year) by “trained traffic policepersons in uniform.” If it is not unified and ningas cogon gets into the picture we are back to square one in no time. And unless trained, policemen cannot enforce rules they are not familiar with.
But why the uniform and the gun? Our colonial culture puts a premium on symbols of authority and power. We see it every day, how ill-educated and arrogant drivers do not respect, instead look down on, traffic enforcers whom they often scare away from their duty of enforcement with threats of bodily harm.
Long story short, unless there is consistent (and yes, unified or done by all LGU’s) enforcement driver seminars or academies and discipline zones will mean nothing to drivers who, in our colonial culture, do not hesitate to violate traffic rules when nobody is enforcing.
Strict enforcement is the missing variable.