Giving in, no car accidents in spite of heavy traffic
Many foreigners are startled not seeing car accidents in Jakarta where the traffic is heavy and chaotic. Traffic congestions (or macet in Indonesian) are daily recurring irritations for people moving by vehicles from early in the morning till late in the evening. Heavy traffic also holds in many cities in the country.
The response to these queries is commonly the rapid reaction of drivers who are used to drive in such a disordered circulation. They have developed a sense of anticipation of what might come. It is a great challenge for foreigners and Indonesians having lived in a foreign country to drive in such circumstances. They have to overcome anxiety before diving in that pool of swarming cars, vans, motorcycles and occasionnaly daring cyclists.
An explanation of the non-accident might be the innate mental setting of the people of ‘ngalah’(an Indonesian word) which is simply said, to give in. The rapid reaction to avoid an accident combined with the behavior of giving in, results in a non-accident. A crash would have consequences varying from a simple damage to the cars to a serious accident with casualties. To give in means that the person accepts to give in priority to the other since it will avoid a great disaster. He prefers to have peaceful feelings than to be confronted to the consequences of an accident particularly if he would not be the cause of this accident.
Moreover many cars are not insured in developing countries. So an accident involves costs for repairing one’s car and the car of the opponent if he is not the perpetrator. Besides there are eventual compensations for casualties. Overall these costs could be very high. Indeed an appropriate manner to avoid these huge burdens is to give in.
This self-restraint in driving cars or other vehicles is contrasting to what often occurs in Western countries. People tend to rely on the principle that if one has the right to take priority he could take this right disregarding other options. In other words once you are from the right direction you have this priority and should not hesitate to do that. There is no reason for giving in to the one coming from the non-priority side, even if due to circumstances or out of politeness it would be better to give in in order to facilitate the traffic.
In case the inclination of giving in is not part of the common behavior this could lead to a head on confrontation. In many instances giving in could be interpreted that the person who gives in, is a loser. As nobody wants to be labeled as a loser, an accident might be the outcome.
To give in does not mean losing a case. It is an option to solve the issue when the course is blocked. It reflects a state of maturity of the person who gives in. Even when a person who has the mindset to give in, might be considered by the other who has not this innate feelings as a loser and not being assertive.
Differences in mindset on giving in may be culturally defined. Such differences are resilient. This sounds rather pessimistic. The optimistic side is that due to frequent international interactions these differences might be discerned and the sharp edges might be refined in the course of time.