Editorial: Mad Max Syndrome

·3 min read

Hubris of the sick kind.

The Cebu City Transportation Office (CCTO) posts images of motorcycle-riding groups and individuals on its social media page this week. The agency said concerned citizens have turned in photographs and videos of these incidents, the most glaring of them apparently made it easy for it to identify violations.

An image of a fleet right before the Capitol building on Osmeña Blvd. showed rows of the riders performing wheelie maneuvers, but what screams out among them are the stunts done in the critical sections of the Cebu South Road Properties viaduct and tunnel.

The CCTO under its socmed post listed down violations it had identified based on its initial investigation: 1) driving without license plates; 2) counter-flowing in one-way San Jose St.; 3) driving on a “no motorcyle allowed lane” (viaduct); speed contest under City Ordinance 801 or the City Traffic Code, Article VII, Sec. 10; and 4) driving “too close” under Article IX, Section 9 of the traffic code.

CCTO information officer Paul Gotiong said they are working on identifying these groups and individuals. Once found, they will either be issued citation tickets or turned over to the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

“The post is meant to warn them since we also cannot fully identify them (drivers),” said Gotiong.

The statement, however, leaves us with more to desire. If left unpunished, the apparent beligerence and disregard for road courtesy among these individuals would only serve to reinforce a culture of confidence among motorists of this kind, which anyone can attest have long been barreling off our streets like death itself.

So the CCTO, the LTO and just any government body who has power to knock some sense on this bunch of death riders must use every means to set the law’s hooks on these people. Seize that image of that one mad man who wheelied his way on Osmeña Blvd., and think of the number of times we have seen motorcycle riders clambering up our sidewalks to bypass the traffic. Imagine the lives they have placed at risk at every chance of a wrong turn.

The LTO reported in 2019 that motorcycle crashes have been the ninth leading cause of deaths in the Philippines. An older CCTO report, from Jan. 17 to March 2018, showed a total of 15,218 vehicular accidents in Cebu City, and 40 percent of those involved motorcycles. This pattern is echoed in more current reports by the Department of Health, the LTO, metropolitan local government units, and media firms who are doing their own count. Even the World Health Organization estimated that over 53 percent of the total vehicular accidents in the Philippines involved motorcycle riders.

The patterns are clear enough to strengthen a case for possible policy reforms that will allow for more rigid deterrents against these death riders.

The photographs posted by the CCTO only serve to illustrate what has been an apparent culture of aggression and confidence among many of our motorcycle riders in our city streets. “Mad Max Syndrome” was a term coined by a Polish study after analyzing the psychological profiles of a number of motorcyclists. The researchers created a typology of riders describing risk, temperament and aggression.

We hope the CCTO and the LTO will push these cases to the end, even lobby for policy and push for a more aggressive campaign to discipline these death riders. And since the numbers have amounted to becoming a matter of public health as well, the DOH may also do its role.