Two new laws may not untangle gridlocks on Edsa, but they will help make commuters in public utility vehicles (PUVs) feel safer.
Republic Acts (RA) 10913 and 10916 have reportedly become laws. Hopefully, the Implementing Rules and Regulations will follow soon.
RA 10913, or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, penalizes drivers who try to multitask. They text, hold extended phone conversations or watch shows on tablets while driving. I once saw a driver using a laptop on his dashboard.
Some women put on makeup while driving.
Even motorcycle drivers can’t seem to keep their hands off their mobile phones while on the road.
Distracted PUV drivers are risking the lives of their passengers. And even if they keep their eyes on the road, other inattentive drivers put commuters in harm’s way.
Distracted driving, as defined in RA 10913, includes “using mobile communications to write, send or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls” and “using an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations and other similar acts.”
In the United States, eating and drinking could distract a driver to miss road hazards.
And, of course, evidence is starting to pile up that multitasking is neither possible nor practical while driving. You cannot do everything with equal efficiency and effectivity if you are doing several things at once. One or all of the tasks you are trying to accomplish will suffer.
Multitasking is particularly difficult when operating a moving vehicle. Sometimes all it takes for an accident to happen is a second or so of distraction.
Not covered by the law are those “using mobile phones for emergencies, including calls to a law enforcement agency, healthcare provider, fire department or other emergency services, agency or entity,” or “using mobile phones while operating vehicles providing emergency assistance,” such as ambulances or fire trucks.
RA 10916, or the Speed Limiters Act of 2016, requires bus drivers or operators to install “speed limiters” on their vehicles to prevent road accidents due to speeding.
Former Ambassador to Brazil Oscar G. Valenzuela is pleased that the city of Manila has removed the shops clogging the stretch of Pedro Gil between Taft and Leon Guinto Streets.
But he points out that more needs to be done. He says that at the end of Aldecoa Street—a tiny strip between M.H. del Pilar and A. Mabini—is a garish two-story barangay hall which has become a favorite spot of neighborhood tambay. Along the narrow street, on the sidewalk, is a row of carinderia, the biggest of which is said to be owned by the wife of a barangay official.
On A. Mabini, there is a barangay annex on the sidewalk while a fire truck and an ambulance are parked on the other side.
He adds: “And speaking of private homeowners who appropriate sidewalks and even fence them off, take a walk along Union and Merced Streets in Paco and be shocked at the anarchy that goes on, all with the connivance of barangay officials!”
Ambassador Valenzuela notes: “In Jakarta (Indonesia), where I was posted, such encroachments were simply bulldozed off, including parts of the offender’s houses!”
Another reader, Romeo Maghirang, says, “Most street signs in Ermita have peeling paint, making it hard to read.” Actually, it is not just in Ermita that street signs are unreadable. Many are actually missing.
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