If you're a newly minted driver who just got a license, congratulations. You passed your driving test and the LTO has deemed you fit and qualified to operate a motor vehicle. But the driving lessons don't stop the moment you turn your student's permit into a license. The difference is that now, there's no instructor to teach you the real, in-world lessons. You're on your own now, and you'll have to learn as you go along.
Since you're no longer driving a car that says CAUTION: STUDENT DRIVER, other motorists won't know you're new to the concept of being an actual driver. It becomes a lot more ruthless once you hit EDSA, and that's reason enough why that 23.8 kilometer stretch of road is the ultimate driver's training ground.
It will hone your defensive driving skills
EDSA is jam packed with cars, most of which are trying to move an inch while thinking they'll gain a mile. You'll have cars straddling lanes, unsure of which direction they'll actually go, and don't forget about the buses too, just to name a few. Because of these many factors, you'll learn to have a sharp eye for potential hazards (other drivers and actual hazards) and look further ahead than the car in front of you.
Eventually, you'll learn the value of keeping distance, awareness, and anticipation. With those in mind, you won't find yourself in a tight spot that can cause an accident...for the most part.
You'll gain the ability to multi-task
Driving isn't all about looking what's in front of you. In EDSA, you'll truly understand the purpose of side mirrors, as well as your rear-view mirror. The simple task of changing lanes in EDSA takes a lot of steps that go beyond mirror, signal, and turn.
In EDSA, you flick your signal, look at the mirror, look ahead, then glance at the rear-view mirror, then check the side mirror again, all while carefully turning the wheel in your desired lane. Driving in EDSA is a constant mirror check, but, of course, don't forget to look ahead.
EDSA can even improve your reflexes
Even if you claim to be the most cautious driver in the country, EDSA has a way of throwing in some surprises along the way. There are those who cut three lanes with no signals, jab on the brakes for no apparent reason, and the impatient fellow who cuts you off from the bus lane then stomps the brakes so they don't hit the car in front. All these can happen in a second and your reaction can be the difference between being annoyed at the erring motorist, or an expensive fender bender.
If you drive along EDSA often enough though, you'll learn to react quickly to these situations. Combined with the skill of defensive driving (and looking at your mirrors all the time), you have better chances avoiding an accident, rather than being caught in one.
Patience is a virtue
With bumper to bumper traffic, erring (and sometimes, brazen) motorists, and blaring horns, EDSA has all the ingredients to drive anyone to the brink or fray the nerves of a new driver. Sadly, at least for now, it's the norm on that avenue, and you'll have to learn to deal with it. Sure, it's stressful, but over time, you develop the virtue of patience. You'll be needing a lot of it, too, given how EDSA can quickly turn into a circus.
You'll also learn to let go of your anger towards the driver that cut you off, or the bus that just stopped in the middle of the road, or even the kilometers of backed-up congestion. Next thing you know, you've adapted to the chaos, not by being part of the problem, but simply by being passive about the hassles that road brings on a daily basis. It's not being defeatist either. You'll get to where you're going, eventually. Besides, losing your cool on the road can have fatal consequences.
We're quoting Bear Grylls here yet again with the mantra of improvise, adapt, overcome. That's the best lesson you can learn in EDSA.
EDSA isn't the only training ground
Of course, there are other roads out there that have their own unique set of challenges. You can throw in others like Commonwealth, Espana, Taft, the Quezon City Memorial Circle, and more. But what EDSA does is ease you in driving around the Metro. If you can handle that, you can more or less survive elsewhere.
To the new drivers out there, take it easy and keep a cool head. There are still a lot of roads to explore. And for those thinking about getting a license but still holding it off, don't be discouraged. Sure, Metro Manila can be a pain to drive around in, but there are a lot of places to go to, right? Now that just give you a lot more reasons to go out, to learn, and to keep on driving.