Tuesday, February 7, 2012

ROAD BULLYING IN BRUNEI

I've been driving in Brunei for more than two years now. Apart from the accident I had in a restaurant in Bandar, which gate hit my car during the rage of a sudden onset of a strong wind, I never had any serious (and I don't wish) on-the-road accident.

But last Saturday, although there was no physical casualty on what I encountered, I was traumatized. Yours truly was (probably) bullied on the road, on my way home.

Wanna know the detail of my horrifying experience? Read on.


Last Saturday, I attended an execomm meeting of UP CB. The meeting was held in our president's house in Hua Ho Manggis area. Since I was clueless on how to get there and I'm bad on following directions, even with a map, I asked my co-officer if she can give me a ride. Without hesitation, my co-officer/friend asked me to follow her.

I still brought my car. I parked in my co-officer's place and followed her. Another co-officer followed us. So, we were three.

The meeting lasted for more than two hours.  Apart from an hour spent on devouring the scrumptious meal, which was prepared by the family of our President, we spent most of the hours on planning activities for year 2012. There were the usual banters and laughter as the meeting ran. Overall, the meeting was very productive and we were all happy with what we rolled out. Instead of finishing at 9, we extended an hour and so we all went off at 10 pm.

After the meeting at our President's place, we all drove back to Bandar and so I got my car. I drove home. Despite being so sleepy, I didn't drive fast.

The nightmare on the road happened in the next minutes.

I was driving at Kiulap Roundabout at around 11:30 pm. I was moving just right. As I told myself, I'm not in a hurry so there's no need to drive fast.

In the Kiulap roundabout, there's no traffic lights. So, a car has to get a right timing to go inside the flow of the three-laned highway. In my case, since the Kiulap Roundabout is the usual way where I pass to go home, I just drove with familiarity; got the right timing and went inside the lane.

Minutes later, a car suddenly popped out beside my car as I drove in the highway going to Beribi. On my left side, I sensed that a guy was looking at me. But I didn't mind him because my eyes were glued on the road.

Soon, the car moved fast and went in on my lane. I was now behind him. Surprisingly, the guy did some hand gestures when he overtook. I started to feel discomfort.

Eventually, when I was about to move to the left lane as I have to turn left on another road, the car suddenly moved fast and cut me. I slowed down. I was shocked. He almost hit me.

Then the worse part came. The car stopped in the road where I was suppose to turn left. Since he blocked my way, I was left with no option but to stop. Immediately, the guy went down of his car and hit my car window. He continuously screamed that I opened my door. Since I was afraid that he'll break my car, I opened my door. The moment I opened my door, he screamed while pointing on the road. He spoke in Malay. I didn't understand not even a single word that came out from the guy's mouth, I said "I'm sorry."

The guy went back to his car and I was able to pass by and reached home.

Inside my car, I felt I was harassed. I was confused why the guy got mad at me. I was driving on the right lane, I didn't swerve and I didn't even honk (accidentally or intentionally).

The moment I reached home, I messaged my friend. She told me that good thing I'm safe. I also posted my experience in my Facebook wall and all my friends sent their messages to calm me down. I was just shocked to the point that I was shaking when I got in my room.

Too bad I didn't get the plate number of the car who, as my friend told me, bullied me on the road. If only I got the plate number, I could forward a report to the police or better yet write a letter to Brunei's local newspaper about road bullies.

After an hour, since I couldn't sleep, I reflected on the "dangerous" incident that I encountered. As most of my friends told, what I did, which I opened my door, was utterly dangerous and life threatening. Good thing, the guy didn't have a gun or a pointed object to hurt me. But still, as my friend pointed out, engaging in raging conversation especially with a stranger is just dangerous. They're right. I should had not opened my door when the guy furiously screamed. A better way was to go directly to a police station or call someone. Then again, in an actual situation, panic pulled me down.

What happened to me is not new, at all. My officemate told me, who also informed me, that road bullies are on the loose at night in Brunei. Either they drag race or they just pester other drivers whom they feel inferior. And yes, considering such "inferiority" as synonymous with driving carefully, I became a victim.

So how do we deal with road bullies? I suggest that the ROAD WARRIORS should be placed in designated areas. Road warriors, as what I suggest to call them, are basically police people or traffic enforcers that may put up a check point. The check point should not only monitor over speeding cars especially at night but would also check if the driver is not in the influence of some drugs or alcohol. The police phone lines should also be accessible especially in times of emergency.

Road bullying is dangerous. As my friend told me, a few passengers died in a recent car accident because of bullying. And bullying is not only a reality in Brunei. It's a worldwide social ill that needs solutions. While we may campaign or obey for safe driving, but with road bullies, a good driver's life can be put to a senseless demise.

I wish that what I experienced won't happen to anyone. And I also wish that I wouldn't experience that traumatic experience again. As my friend said, better not drive late at night. Or better find another way home instead of taking the major highways.

Perhaps you may wondering how does the "road bully" look like? Oh well, I got the mental image of the guy who "bullied" or "harassed" me, he looks like...SERIOUSLY!

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