When you first arrive in the Philippines one of the most shocking things is the number of vehicles driving at night with no lights on.
Why do so many Filipinos drive with no lights on?
We have spoken to many drivers that drive without lights at night none of them could give us a viable reason for it.
One Jeepney driver I asked, said it was to reduce his Meralco bill. When I laughed the driver became offended, a Filipina that was translating for me told me the Jeepney driver was not joking, he really did think that driving with lights on increased his electric bill.
I find it very worrying that a person of that intelligence is driving even worse he is driving a public service vehicle.
It saves fuel
This is a reason I have been given a lot. While technically it is true it does save fuel the saving is so insignificant you would hardly notice.
California Energy Commission reports that the extra fuel consumption of driving with your lights on is about 0.5%.
The 0.5% saving of driving with your lights off means every 100 peso spent on fuel driving at night the saving would be just 50 centavos. Is it worth putting your life and the life of other people at risk for such a small saving?
The fact with your lights of you are more likely to damage your vehicle by, hitting potholes, obstacles in the road etc. Means driving with lights off in the long term will probably cost you money. Plus the fact you could get a fine.
No other reason for driving with no lights
Despite asking many drivers we have been given no other reason for driving with no lights.
When asked the vast majority of drivers that practice driving with no lights on just shrug their shoulders or give a gormless look and do not reply. I suspect it is because they are embarrassed as they know it is wrong, probably realise it is dangerous and is stupid but still persist in doing it.
The worst offenders
The worst offenders of driving with no lights on are tricycle and jeepney drivers, however it is far more widespread than just them 2 types of drivers. You will see buses, vans, cars and even motorbikes driving with no lights on in the Philippines.
Twice this week I have seen a school bus with no lights on while it was still dark, I could hardly see the bus so it is the same for all drivers.
A tricycle with no lights on is just stupid, the fact that they are slow means they are in danger of a faster moving vehicle hitting them from behind, with no lights on there is even more chance of this happening.
It is very common to see Jeepneys, tricycles and motorbikes with no rear lights because a bulb has blown. This can happen to anyone, but you see the same ones night after night with no rear lights.
There are a few points here:
You should always carry spare bulbs. In many countries it is law, maybe it is time the Philippines had such a law.
If you use your mirrors you can tell you have no rear light. The fact they don’t seem to notice tells me they don’t care or don’t use their mirrors.
Why are tricycle drivers not telling each other? When they stop waiting for customers why are the other drivers not telling them that they have a rear light out? It is polite and helpful to do so.
Why are other road users not warning them? In the UK if you have no rear lights other drivers will flash their lights at you, point to the rear of your vehicle as they overtake etc. to warn you that there is something wrong. Help fellow drivers by warning them they have no lights on the rear, if they already know loads of cars flashing at them and pointing at them will shame them into getting them fixed.
I am told a rear bulb for a tricycle costs about 40 peso, is 40 peso really more important than their life? If they earn so little they can’t afford 40 peso maybe it is time they thought about getting a different job.
Refuse to use transport with faulty lights
If you are using public transport refuse to get in a vehicle with no lights or faulty lights, and tell the driver why you are not going to use them. It is your life they are putting at risk. When they realise they are losing customers I can assure you they will fix their lights.
The idiots that drive round with no lights on are not only a danger to you they are also giving your country a bad name. So speak up and shame them so they stop doing it, if you do not feel comfortable speaking up then report them. Every public utility vehicle should be franchised so report them to city hall, if you can take a photo of them for evidence even better.
Do you know why so many Filipinos drive with no lights on?
If you know a reason why for this we would love to know the reason.
Maybe you are one of the people who do this and can tell us why you do it?
Please comment below to let us know.