MMDA Stalled vehicle. Watching videos of MMDA operations I was very confused when they kept talking about fees for towing stalled vehicles.
Why would a stalled vehicle need to be towed? I was taught that when you stall you put the handbrake on, put the car into neutral, turn the key and restart the engine, you can then pull away as normal.
I quickly realised that MMDA was using the term stalled incorrectly and what they really meant was a broken-down vehicle which is not the same as a stalled vehicle.
For me, stall has always meant when the engine stops because of too much load put on it, for example letting the clutch out too fast when pulling away.
Maybe it was me not knowing all the meanings of the word “stall” but when I took driving lessons in a car, took my test in a heavy goods vehicle and passed my CPC (Certificate Of Professional Competence) in international road transport management, stall always meant when the engine stopped because of too much load being put on it.
Not one to think I am always correct I thought I should research what stalled means. First stop was the Oxford dictionary and that said:
(of a motor vehicle or its engine) stop running, typically because of an overload on the engine.
While the Oxford dictionary does back up what I think stalled means, it could also include what MMDA regards as stalled. So next I checked “breakdown” and the Oxford dictionary said:
A mechanical failure. Which is far more fitting for what MMDA means when they say stalled.
So next stop was the Cambridge dictionary and that said:
If an engine stalls, or if you stall it, it stops working suddenly and without you intending it to happen.
It also gave a couple of examples:
A car may stall due to the driver braking too suddenly.
I stalled the car twice during my driving test but still managed to pass.
It does seem that it is more likely to mean what I think it does and not what MMDA thinks it means, but it is still not 100%.
The next step was a Google search and it came up with
“What causes cars to stall? In manually-operated cars – those which have a clutch – stalling is usually caused by driver error. Releasing the clutch too quickly can cause the engine to cease operating, as can forgetting to apply the clutch when coming to a standstill.”
Website after website came up with much the same and none of them referred to it as a vehicle that had broken down.
Then we came across the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) you can’t get much more English than that, so you can be sure they would use the word correctly.
What we found on the RAC website was:
One of the most common problems with hill starts is stalling, which is caused by two things: not pressing on the gas pedal enough and bringing the clutch up too fast.
Also, we noticed the RAC calls themselves a Breakdown Service, not a Stalled Service.
In all, we looked at over 100 websites and the only one that regarded stalled to mean what MMDA class it as was MMDA own website.
Why does it matter if MMDA uses the incorrect word?
It matters a lot, the correct use of language is very important especially when it is being used for legal reasons incorrect use can mean people getting tickets when they should not.
We know of cases when enforcers not using the true meaning of a word have issued tickets because of it. An example is drivers of 3 wheelers being given a ticket for a tricycle ban because the enforcer thinks incorrectly that everything with 3 wheels is a tricycle.
Other cases of incorrect use of a word has meant private owners of a vehicle have been given tickets for plying on a national highway when they were simply travelling with their family which is not plying.
So as you can see correct use of language is very important when enforcing laws.
Imagine you are driving through Manila and you accidentality stall (true meaning) your car at some traffic lights, not a problem as you can simply restart it and pull away again in a few seconds, but an unscrupulous enforcer is stood by the lights see what has happened and pounces on you, saying your vehicle stalled so it needs to be towed and that you will have to pay a towing fee.
Clearly, this is not what MMDA means by a stalled vehicle, but your vehicle did stall so technically the enforcer is correct.
If instead of saying stalled vehicle MMDA said broken-down vehicle, the unscrupulous enforcer could do nothing as clearly you have not broken-down.