Driving in the Philippines… Is It Really Safer Than Guam?

Guam Traffic – not that bad.

Driving on Guam

Yesterday my wife and I were in the car heading to the gym and we both simultaneously came to the same conclusion about driver differences between the Philippines and Guam. The funny thing is that as we approached a late-model vehicle at a stop light, be both noticed the vehicle’s hatchback smashed and we both spoke up at the same time (remember the “You owe me a Coke!” thing?). The inference that both of us attempted to make to each other is about the number of cars we see on Guam that have dents, scrapes, and road battle scars. More simply, vehicle body damage.

We both reached the same conclusion: Here on Guam there are nice roads, speed limits, stop signs and traffic lights, and driving rules that are mostly adhered to but, there seems to be an inordinate amount of cars with body damage. Even newer cars seem to have over their fair share of dents and dings. 

More careless driving most likely.

Driving in the Philippines

Compare this to the Philippines where streets are narrow, traffic is horrendous, most drivers do not understand rules of the road, and even when they do, they ignore them. Many people have no licence, others speed, cut each other off, run through intersections and cross-walks, and everyone overtakes in No Passing Zones. And then there are those who drive under the influence. Yet, very few vehicles (comparably speaking) have the damage that we see on many vehicles here on Guam. Are there accidents in the Philippines… of course. And when there are, it is usually a serious one and involves large trucks, buses or travel vans… and mostly in the provincial areas on less crowded roads.

Not much space to maneuver.

How can a country that runs on “No Rule Enforcement” be safer to drive in than a country that patrols all roadways and enforces the rule of law. I can get away with almost anything while driving in the Philippines, yet here I get cited for speeding when doing only 24 mph!

Talent and Skill?

When you first think about all the differences, you initially think it makes no sense whatsoever. But then logic and rationalization sinks in and then you come to the conclusion that Americans just don’t know how to drive, rules or no rules! And then the wife says, “I think I would rather be driving in the PI!” And I understand precisely why… there you can anticipate almost everything – you learn to expect the unexpected.

And it works.