Seeing a head on collision is never a pretty sight. Two vehicles making nose-to-nose contact always results in catastrophe, especially if there's significant speed involved.
Just recently a video surfaced of an incident that occurred on Marcos Highway just down from Baguio. The footage was taken by a dash camera showing a vehicle on the Badiwan viaduct just as a motorcycle appeared on the incoming lane. To our surprise a Mitsubishi Adventure appeared, overtaking the camera vehicle and smashed head-on with the motorcycle and sent the rider flying. He landed his back behind the now-stopped AUV. Watch it again -this time with the sound turned on- and the scene simply becomes horrific.
What could have caused such an event? How could a driver make one of the most basic and most obvious of mistakes by overtaking on a bridge and failing to recognize the significance of the double yellow line?
The mistake was simple, yet the results were gut-wrenchingly painful.
To try and help prevent such things from happening again, here are several simple guidelines on how to safely pass another vehicle on any road, particularly our provincial highways.
1. Location, location, location
As with real estate, everything depends on location. Where you decide to make a pass is going to be the key factor.
You should never overtake if you are on a bridge, in the middle of a corner, or in populated areas. You should never try a pass if you are coming up to a crest on the road, an intersection, or any place where you cannot see far up the road. Most importantly: don't overtake when you can see yellow lines in middle of the road.
2. Don't rush
Patience may be a virtue but when it comes to overtaking on provincial roads, it's a lifesaver.
A driver of a vehicle must be prepared to wait until the time and conditions are favorable to safely complete an overtake maneuver safely. Don't rush, don't get impatient, and don't force a pass if it's too risky.
We've seen many bad drivers get impatient behind a slower car, semi trailer or a jeepney; they usually weave in and out, trying to find a way past as quickly as possible. These are the dangerous ones, and its best to just let them get past you.
3. You need power and speed
When you do commit yourself to make a pass, don't do it at half or quarter throttle. Overtaking another vehicle isn't an exercise in fuel economy; it's about using speed and power to get ahead.
Step on that gas pedal and get ahead of that vehicle and back in the proper lane as quickly as possible. Do not prolong your time on the opposing lane and overtake like you're driving Miss Daisy.
4. The driver being overtaken must know he is being passed
When you do decide to pass, you need to communicate to other cars that you are doing so. Use your signal lights to let the car ahead that you're going by. You can also use your headlamps and a tap of the horn to make sure he/she knows that you'll be making a pass.
Also, if you yourself are being passed be aware of it and do not speed up under any circumstances. Not only is it illegal for you to do so (read Republic Act 4136), it's incredibly dangerous to increase speed when being overtaken.
5. It's about visibility
You must also take into account if there are obstacles that may be obscuring your vision of oncoming traffic (i.e. low hanging trees, road signs) and factor in weather conditions such as rain or fog.
The ideal place to pass is on a long, straight stretch of road that allows you full (or at least the best possible) visibility of what's ahead.
Overtaking another vehicle on a dual carriageway, motorway or expressway (as we call it) is easy; each direction has at least two lanes dedicated to their side as well as medians and shoulders to provide escape paths in the event of an emergency. Provincial highways and national roads with only one lane on either side are much trickier; try to pass a vehicle and you'll be facing oncoming traffic. And more often than not, residents build their homes right up to the fringes of the road.
There are specific rules and guidelines in order to safely pass, and it's up to the driver to properly judge if he or she has enough space to complete the maneuver. Time a pass right and you can get to your destination quicker. Time it wrong and, well, you get the picture.
Be patient and drive safe because the life you can keep out of harm's way just might be your own.