Our first freeway was the 27-kilometer North Diversion Road, now part of the North Luzon Expressway or NLEX.
It was constructed in 1968 during the first term of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
The length of our freeways has, of course, increased many fold since then that Filipino motorists should have learned the proper way of driving in our freeways.
Unfortunately, this is not the case.
We still have a significant number of drivers who do not know how to drive properly in our freeways or simply refuse to follow simple freeway driving rules.
The most common violations or offenses are not knowing the proper speeds when using the lanes and not observing speed limits.
For instance, while going down to Manila one time, one driver who was driving a lot faster than the speed limit passed our vehicle and abruptly tried to cut our vehicle forcing us to take evasive action to avoid hitting the vehicle.
Freeways as we know are divided highways that allow for faster driving free of some traffic constraints like traffic lights and intersections that would slow driving.
This is where we would hear the term continuous intersections because of the clover leaf design of freeway intersections that allows motorists to simply continue driving when they reach an intersection.
The length of our freeways, however, is still miniscule compared to more advanced countries like Germany.
The German autobahn alone is already almost 13,000 kilometers compared to ours which is only about 626 kilometers.
This, however, is not be an excuse for many of our motorists not to know how to drive properly under freeway conditions.
And contrary to what some motorists are thinking that there are no speed limits in our freeways like the NLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX, there is actually a speed limit.
The maximum speed is 100 kilometers while the minimum speed is 60 kilometers.
There are traffic signs on the right side of the road that clearly indicate the minimum and maximum speeds.
Trouble is, many motorists are not complying.
Those motorists who are driving close or at the maximum speed are supposed to stay at the left most lane while those driving slower should stay in the middle lane.
The slowest should always stay at the right most lane.
But we often see drivers who do not follow this simple freeway rule.
Many still drive very fast regardless whether they are in the middle or right most lane.
There is, however, a peculiar traffic sign in our freeways regarding overtaking which is technically wrong.
Since freeways have two or more lanes, the correct term is passing.
In a regular highway like the old MacArthur highway, a vehicle overtakes a vehicle in front if both vehicles are using the same lane.
But in freeways, one passes a vehicle in front that is using another lane.
The reasons why the freeway operator feels the need for such instructions is perhaps because some vehicles are swerving from lane to lane due to vehicles not following speed requirements by moving too slow or too fast in the lanes they are using.
Freeway driving in other countries differs from the way we do it here.
Driving in the German autobahn for example could be quite an experience for Filipino drivers.
This is because there are about eight autobahns wherein there are no speed limits.
One can drive to his or her heart’s content in the eight autobahns.
Almost all countries that I know, however, impose some kind of speed limit and a minimum speed so as not to disrupt traffic flow along the freeway.
The minimum speed is generally pegged at 60km/hr. in most countries.
If some are wondering why 60km, this was perhaps due to the fact that when the autobahn was first constructed in 1934, the German Traffic Act of 1934 mandated that the minimum speed was to be 60km/hr.
As we continue to build more freeways, however, we should not forget to update our Land Transportation and Traffic Code like RA 4136 and other related laws to keep up with the fast changing times.
Traffic is a very dynamic process that is changing all the time and we have to keep pace with all these changes.
There are now for example driverless vehicles.
In like manner, it is about time the DPWH also start coming up with our own road design and safety standards instead of using the Australian design standards which seems to be the case.
There is really nothing wrong with this but it would be better if we have our own road design and safety standards.
Many of the traffic problems that we sometimes encounter when driving are due to the fact that many traffic situations are not covered by our current outdated traffic code.
What we need now is a comprehensive amendment to our traffic code instead of a piece mill introduction of specific law covering a particular situation like seat belts.
We have a lot of catching up to do in this area to keep our roads safer and make driving more enjoyable.