AS we usher in the New Year, we need to consider the state of road safety in our country. Just this month, a number of vehicular accidents claimed many lives – losses that could have been avoided if Philippine roads are safer.
Records show that vehicular accidents are among the leading causes of deaths in our country. In Metro Manila alone, it was reported that from 63,072 road accidents in 2007, the number rose to almost double at 116,906 in 2018. Such number is expected to be even higher for 2019. Road accidents also claimed the lives of children more than any other disease.
The state of road safety in our country is more than just a function of the increasing number of vehicles in our roads. To a large extent, we have unsafe roads because of the less-than-desirable implementation of our road safety laws.
In recent years, for example, the Philippine Congress passed road safety laws such as the Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act, the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, and the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act. These are in addition to many national laws and local ordinances that are supposed to make our roads safe like those that set speed limits and weight of loads (particularly for cargo trucks).
What’s the state of the implementation of road safety-related laws in our country?
The Anti-Drunk and Drugged Driving Act was enacted in 2013. Is there already an institutionalized system for the implementation of this law in all parts of the country? Has the implementation of this law been consistent?
In the early years of this law’s effectivity, we heard of efforts from the Philippine National Police (PNP) to buy the needed breath analyzer devices. Does the PNP have enough of this device to effectively implement the law? There clearly is no effective program to prevent those who are drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs from driving because those concerned know that, unless they figured out in a vehicular accident, no policeman or other law enforcers will know that they are violating the law.
We have laws against driving in excess of the set speed limits or carrying weight more than the set limitations. However, many of our road accidents happen because of over speeding and overloading. These accidents happen because there are no institutionalized systems and mechanisms for the consistent implementation of these laws.
While some of our road safety-related laws needs to be revisited to ascertain that they are still responsive to our current needs and situation, the bigger concern is the strict and consistent implementation of all existing laws.
(to be continued)