Driving In Jakarta? Don’t Be A Douchebag

According to this article, Jakarta has about 17 million vehicles. That’s roughly 1.7 vehicles for every person in Jakarta, which is ridiculous, not even considering the amount of people commuting from suburbs or satellite cities, and that there simply aren’t enough roads (and/or parking lots) to absorb. Naturally, in frustrating traffic jams, douchebags tend to surface.

The thing is, we cannot rely on the presence of policemen to make those knots of traffic easier to manage, as Jakarta probably has around 25,000 policemen (and I’m not sure how many of these are actually on traffic duty). So it’s actually up to us to make our travels in Jakarta just that much less an ordeal. The key is, don’t be a douchebag.

Here are some pointers on not being a douchebag driver:

  • the green light is not a God-given right for you to go forward, neither is the yellow light permission to go faster (you’re actually supposed to go slower).
  • hang back behind the line at intersections if you see slow traffic going through it. Don’t be that douchebag who gets stuck in the middle of the street when the light goes red because yes, you’re causing a traffic jam.
  • that green light is not a cue for you to honk your horn. There are no rules that say that movement must be immediate when the light turns green.
  • turning left at the intersection is not a God-given right, either. Give way to people who actually have right of way. Hint: right of way usually means they’re going straight and already on that street, not turning from another street.
  • Don’t cut off people. Really guys, does this have to be said? Also applies to turning right from the leftmost lane.
  • Respect the queue. If there’s a long line for a u-turn, don’t be that douchebag who overtakes the queue from the lane next to it.
  • For that matter, don’t overtake other vehicles at any sort of turn. Other than douchebaggery, it’s dangerous. I’m especially talking to those motorcyclists who seem to think it’s a good idea to overtake a car turning left, on its left side.
  • Stop switching lanes so much. Douchebag. It’s just annoying, doesn’t get you anywhere faster and most likely, you’ll be in the wrong lane for your turn and then piss off the people behind you even more. How hard is it to plan your journey a bit? Take the proper lanes.
  • Unless you’re emergency services, those sirens and blinking lights make you a douchebag. Yes, even your government escort. And especially when the traffic jam isn’t moving — extra points and upgrade to premium douchebaggery.
  • Road lanes are made that wide so that when emergency services need access, there’s space for your vehicle to go to the side for them to pass. It’s not for an extra lane during rush hour. Would you want to be in an ambulance stuck in rush hour?
  • You don’t get extra points for not losing momentum. That brake? Use it. That horn? Use it less.
  • Stop blinking your high lights to other people, unless you really have to. When do you really have to? When you need to warn other drivers of danger. It’s not for forcing your way, it’s not a replacement for horns, and it definitely isn’t made to annoy the drivers in front of you.
  • Just be nice and give way to other vehicles. Even when it’s raining. Even when the traffic jam is crap. Lighten up, most likely you won’t get anywhere soon.
  • Stop trying to overtake every single thing on the road.
  • Stop making crowded intersections worse. Douchebag.
  • Stay in lane properly. Yes, those lines on the road mean something.
  • Are you letting your underage kids drive a car or motorcycle? You’re not the world’s best parents, YOU’RE DOUCHEBAGS! IDIOT DOUCHEBAGS!
  • The tollway/highway is not a race circuit. Maintain safe distance with other vehicles. And if you use this space to overtake and switch lanes, you’re a douchebag.
  • And also, the tollway/highway has speed limits! This is Jakarta, we have no freakin’ autobahns here. Every day there are avoidable accidents. Avoidable if we all stop being douchebags.
  • Inner city roads also have speed limits, douchebag.
  • I often read complaints on Twitter about traffic jams somewhere and the person saying ‘no police officers on the scene to organise’. ORGANISE IT YOURSELF YOU DOUCHEBAG. If every one can think a bit bigger and stop being selfish (i.e. crowding and making jams even worse), traffic jams would be much easier to tolerate and dissipate.
  • Don’t be a douchebag and respect your fellow driver.
  • We often think ‘hey that guy’s going through the red light, I might as well do it as well, no cops are around.’ If you think that, you’re a douchebag. The rules apply whether or not there are cops around, and someone else doing it shouldn’t mean we should do it too.
  • Driving a vehicle requires proper age and a driving license. That means, it’s a privilige. Use that privilege wisely; use your head when driving at all times. Stop competing with other drivers and work together with them to make the roads more bearable.
  • Don’t know the road rules? LEARN THEM, douchebag. IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE.

The certainty of the law begins on the road. I should be able to cross the road at a zebra cross without having to worry about being clipped by a motorcycle, or having guards carrying ridiculous ‘Stop’ signs to make sure cars stop before anyone can cross the street. People control vehicles (at least for now). People with minds, and common sense. Upholding the law is also up to us. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, it will also make a lot of our lives easier.

Of course, ideally it’s better off if we find a way to use more public transit. But the state of public transit in Jakarta deserves another rant altogether.

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