Traffic > Guide

Avoid driving at these times this Christmas season

Unless you want to defy Waze and its traffic crystal ball

Have yourself a merry little Christmas by staying home (if you can help it). PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

Community-based traffic and navigation app Waze—whose survey this year found the Philippines to be the worst place in the world for driving—has just released what it predicts to be the worst times and dates for driving on Metro Manila roads during the holiday season. At the same time, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is calling on people to stay calm and be patient during what promises to be yet another Christmas Carmageddon.

Google-owned Waze has looked into its data-powered crystal ball and predicts that you should avoid driving during the following dates and times if you care about your sanity:

  • December 22 (Friday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 23 (Saturday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 24 (Sunday), 2pm to 4pm;
  • December 25 (Monday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 26 (Tuesday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 27 (Wednesday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 28 (Thursday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 29 (Friday), 4pm to 6pm;
  • December 30 (Saturday), 4pm to 6pm; and
  • January 2 (Tuesday), 1pm to 3pm.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that traffic will be any better outside of these periods, but at least this guide should allow you to do a little bit of planning in an effort to avoid being caught up in the worst of traffic jams.

Waze has also looked at how the volume of traffic will increase in various locations outside Metro Manila, as people leave the city and drive to the provinces for Christmas. Analysis of available data suggests that Naga in Bicol and Angeles in Pampanga will see the biggest increases in traffic during the holidays, with volumes predicted to go up by 2.7 and 1.8 times, respectively. Bacolod is expected to endure 1.6 times more traffic than normal, while Batangas, Iligan, Iloilo City and Cagayan de Oro will have 1.4 times more vehicles passing through their streets. Davao and General Santos follow with 1.3 times more traffic, while Zamboanga will experience a slight increase of 1.2 times the usual number of cars.

Will you be naughty or nice when you find yourself trapped in the middle of a traffic jam? PHOTO BY FRANK SCHUENGEL

All this madness on the road can lead to increased stress levels and incidents of road rage, something the MMDA is well aware of and keen to help prevent from happening. Jojo Garcia, the agency’s assistant general manager for planning, says that motorists should stay calm and disciplined while stuck in traffic, as losing their cool can only lead to accidents that, in turn, will make things even worse for everyone. You can read our six tips for staying cool in Christmas gridlock to help you through the stressful times behind the wheel, when the 300,000 cars that are already using EDSA every day will be joined by an additional 60,000 vehicles belonging to Christmas shoppers from the provinces.

Garcia also advises motorists to use the 17 Mabuhay Lanes that the MMDA is continuously clearing of obstructions and illegally parked vehicles during the Christmas period, giving drivers more options when it comes to choosing the best route to their destinations.

Even with the help of Waze and the MMDA, however, we all know that Yuletide traffic will be a test of character for even the most seasoned of drivers. Maybe our last and only hope is to be nice to each other while we endure crazy traffic levels caused by a fast-growing megalopolis that has always suffered from total and systemic political failure when it comes to city and transport planning.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring.