Traffic > Safety

This is what ‘Truck-kun’ teaches us about road safety

Vehicular crashes are too normal

This scene is all too familiar in anime and manga. IMAGE FROM SEVEN ARCS

Anime is a diverse medium of entertainment that doesn’t shy away from depicting death. In many series, the demise of a character is necessary to get the plot rolling. This is especially true in the isekai genre where ordinary humans are reincarnated in another world.

So, the question is: “What is the most mundane way to die?” Given that Japan is relatively peaceful with a healthy population, violent crime and terminal illness aren’t common for young people. Yet, there’s no need to suspend disbelief over someone getting run over by a truck.

This plot device is so common that the vehicle has transcended into its own meme known as Truck-kun’ (with –kun being used to show familiarity). One moment you’re trying to cross the street. And the next thing you know, you’ve crossed over into the afterlife.

It may be generic, but underneath the trope is a sad reality across the globe: Road crashes are ordinary occurrences, and we are desensitized to them. Take note that these incidents are not accidents because they are always preventable. They are not natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, so we should stop treating them as such.

‘Mushoku Tensei’ opens with a 34-year-old shut-in getting hit by a truck driver, before being reborn as a baby in another world. IMAGES FROM STUDIO BIND

May is considered as Road Safety Month. You may not drive an oversized truck, but any car or motorcycle can easily cause great harm and destruction in the wrong hands. I’d argue that motor vehicles are the most accessible form of deadly weapons.

In ordinary life, you won’t just shoot someone with a firearm for no reason (assuming you even have access to one). And nobody in his right mind would stab another person with a kitchen knife.

But get careless behind the wheeleven for just a momentand you risk ending the life of another human being, even despite the absence of malicious intent.

Safety is a choice that people have to make, both as individuals and as a society. Motor vehicles do not kill on their own. The people operating them are the ones ultimately responsible.

In 'Zombie Land Saga', Sakura Minamoto dies via car crash, before getting resurrected as an undead pop idol. IMAGE FROM MAPPA
The truck is even an accessory to the Nendoroid figure. PHOTO FROM GOOD SMILE COMPANY

According to the Department of Transportation, an estimated 12,000 Filipinos die every year due to vehicular crashes. And according to the University of the Philippines–National Center for Transportation Studies, 38 children die every day on our roads. These numbers should be alarming because each of these deaths is unnecessary. You, or someone you know, could be part of this.

Traffic-related injuries can be life-changing or life-threatening. The grief and pain of losing a loved one is immeasurable. Should the victim survive, there’s no guarantee he or she could continue living with all bodily functions intact.

This problem concerns public health just as much as transportation. Some call it a silent epidemic because it is a leading cause of death, particularly among young people.

Truck-kun’s earliest appearance could be in ‘Astro Boy’ from 1963. IMAGES FROM MUSHI PRODUCTION

There are many ways to die. But your earliest brush with death is probably going to be the moment you step foot on the road. Yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks is an obligation, but too many drivers treat it as a suggestion.

As a result, crossing the street becomes a matter of life or death. Even if pedestrians and cyclists do everything right, their safety still lies in the hands of the motorists around them.

In the cockpit of a motor vehicle, you are responsible for yourself as well as the lives of those around you. That’s why a license is necessary in the first place. I’d like to believe that people (like you) follow VISOR because they care about being safe and responsible drivers. And that begins with how we treat the most vulnerable road users.

When approaching a pedestrian crossing or an intersection, do you slow down and anticipate for people about to cross the street? Do you observe a proper following and braking distance so you can safely stop for them? Do you leave enough space when overtaking cyclists? Do you check your surroundings before turning or opening your door?

When Light Yagami wrote the target's name and ‘traffic accident’ on the Death Note, a truck showed up and crashed into the victim. IMAGES FROM MADHOUSE

When we fail to exercise cautionwhich we are all guilty of at some pointwe make the streets a more dangerous place. However, rather than contributing to the problem, we can help prevent it. It’s simple, really: Be mindful and drive carefully around people and animals.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the faster and the heavier your vehicle is, the greater the threat it poses. Speed kills, which is why 30km/h is considered the safe speed limit in residential and urban areas. I know that traffic congestion is horrible, and you just want to get where you need to be. But there’s no need to be in such a rush. That won’t save time, and you’ll arrive at your destination eventually. There’s no harm in driving patiently, and the world isn’t going to end just because you waited a minute or two for someone crossing the street.

So much is wrong with Philippine motoring, such as erring road users, poor road conditions, and unjust law enforcement. But the only thing we have control over is ourselves and our vehicles. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we all arrive, alive and well.

So, let’s not be a menace like Truck-kun. Your life—and the lives of countless others—depend on that.

Leandro Mangubat

Leandro is our staff writer. Although having a background in mechanical engineering, he enjoys photography and writing more.