Monday, April 7, 2008

Road Rage

I was listening to my headphones in my room when I heard police whistles outside my window just a little while ago. It was 5:25 p.m., the beginning of rush hour. I pulled my curtain and looked at La Septima, the street below. Several policemen were crouching down near a women in the middle of the road. Her face was covered in blood. Next to her was a motorcycle on its side and the driver was also crouching down next to her. She wasn’t moving.

Although I didn’t see the accident, it is my gut feeling that the motorcyclist was to blame. The way the people drive it is a wonder that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. Colombia has a law that requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet and reflector vest. This law is strictly enforced. Speeding is not. Road rage is an odd part of Colombian culture. The people are generally friendly and don’t do anything really fast. Having grown up near New York City, I walk much faster than most of the people in Bogotá. However, once they get into their cars or on their motorcycles, their entire mind-set changes. Below is a response from a Canadian called Lostgringo in a forum on this topic at

I have seen the same thing in Colombia but it's not reserved only to that country. The exact same thing happens right here in the Philippines. I imagine it is some kind of way to let off all that stress they keep suppressed or something. Funny but they are nice in their cars in parking lots. My reasoning for this is they are somewhat trapped. You can reach inside the car and grab them by the scruff of their neck! But on the open hiway they are the most inconsiderate bunch of aholes ..I have ever seen.

Durito it not just aimed at the gringo...they will run over old women, dogs and anything that walks or crawls across THEIR PATH. It's the same and sometimes worse with motorcycles. I would often hear about someone who was killed on their motorcycle. I would think to myself that this person had it coming. They go from 1st gear to 3rd gear in 1 BLOCK. What's up with that? They come to a stop sign and do the same thing for the next block. They don't care if little kids are playing on the street or not. And, if some little kid gets killed they are all sad and stuff. Two minutes after driving like maniacs they will be opening a door for you and saying Buenas Noches. Bloody strange if you ask me and it ain't going to change anytime soon lol.

This may sound extreme to someone who has not traveled outside the United States, but it is true. It doesn’t matter the age or gender of the person driving. They seem to all be in such a big hurry and beep for the smallest reason, many times for no reason at all. If a driver at the front of a red light does not anticipate the green light, the other cars will honk. (The traffic lights change from red to yellow to green.) Even while this poor woman was lying in the middle of the road with a bloody head while police directed traffic, cars were still honking. They were upset they had to slow down to pass by in a single lane.

Thankfully, she was alive as I saw her raise her bloodied hand while the police and others talked to her. Two ambulances arrived about ten minutes later and carried her away in a stretcher. Once the ambulances left, the street was back to normal. I then left my apartment and walked along the sidewalk. I could see a blood stain in the road as cars zoomed over it.


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