Apart from erring motorists, wayward pedestrians, and other unsavory road users, there’s another hazard that threatens to disrupt your driving zen. We’re talking about traffic enforcers flagging you down while you’re in the middle of an otherwise serene drive.
Not what you'd want to see when you're behind the wheel
Admit it, there’s something about being waved to the side of the road by a uniformed person in authority that’s either unnerving or downright annoying. It triggers the fight or flight response, which is made more dangerous by the fact that you’re controlling a piece of machinery with the potential to cause serious injury or damage if you’re not careful.
They have jobs to do too, just like most of us
But there’s no need to get all worked up, at least not right away. We all have our impressions of traffic enforcers, some less flattering than others. But the reality is that just like everyone else, they’re only trying to get by another working day with jobs to do. So how should you prepare yourself for the prospect of having to acknowledge (or contest) a supposed traffic violation?
Panicking is the last thing you should be doing, since you’d be liable to get yourself into deeper trouble. Just pull over to the area the traffic enforcer is waving you towards, which ideally should be a visible part of the road where traffic isn’t obstructed. Once you’ve made a full stop, take a deep breath, keep your hands on the wheel, and wait for the officer to come to you.
Traffic enforcers use a prepared spiel in explaining your violation, and it helps to listen to it all the way through first. Pre-empting what they have to say makes you look defensive.
Let the enforcer speak first, then air your side without blowing your top
When they’ve finished reciting the reason why you’ve been stopped, that’s the time you can make your case – whether it’s disagreeing with the officer’s observation or justifying it with an alibi – as long as you do it courteously and without losing your cool.
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Don't leave your seat
Unless you are being stopped for driving under the influence of drugs or liquor, or are suspected of committing a major crime, you should stay in your place behind the wheel. If you’re being asked to step outside, you can refuse and ask for the enforcer’s mission order, the absence of which prevents them from apprehending you in the first place. Don’t forget to ask for their names if the nameplate or ID isn’t visible, which is a useful reference if you suspect something fishy.
Forget about bribing
It can be tempting to slip a little something into the officer’s hands in exchange for letting you go on your merry way.
Attempting to bribe a traffic enforcer sets a bad example
Not only does this make you look guilty outright, it’s also against the law and can land you some serious jail time. Moreover, you’re perpetuating a bad practice that authorities are trying to do away with, and it’s not going to do anyone any favors.
Accept it with grace
Some traffic enforcers will listen to a reasonable explanation, others will insist on their side of the story. In case you get into an argument with the enforcer, call MMDA Metrobase at 0917-5277304 or the MMDA Hotline 136 and request for inspectors on the scene to conduct a proper investigation.
Then again, it would be pointless to engage in an endless back-and-forth exchange out on the street. If you see that the discussion is going nowhere, just accept the ticket, duly signed by both you and the enforcer concerned.
If you don't want to deal with all that, don't commit traffic violations to begin with
However, this doesn’t mean that you’re surrendering. You can use that document to contest the violation, whether by writing to the Traffic Adjudication Board (TAB) within five days of the incident, or by emailing the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to keep all photo and video evidence on hand (such as dashcam footage) to help you when you present your side.
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Joseph Paolo Estabillo