There is conventional wisdom in the saying that “too many cooks spoil the broth!”
That is exactly why there is little faith in the implementation of this newest law, Republic Act (RA) 10913 known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act despite numerous attempts to revise and clarify its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulation.
The objective of the State is laudable—“to safeguard its citizenry from the numerous and extremely imperious effects of vehicular accidents” (RA 10913, Section 2). But, there have been many laws attempting the same objective, all of these laws were enthusiastically enforced at the start until they became more honored in breach than in observance, and the State and local governments had no budget to hire traffic enforcers. Hereunder is a sample listing of some laws uniformly aimed at “ensuring road safety through the observance of the citizenry of responsible and ethical driving standards” (RA 10586, Section 2):
- RA 10916—An Act Requiring the Mandatory Installation of Speed Limiter in Public Utility and Certain Types of Vehicles;
- RA 10913—An Act Defining and Penalizing Distracted Driving;
- RA 10666—An Act Providing for the Safety of Children Aboard Motorcycles;
- RA 10054—An Act Mandating All Motorcycle Riders to Wear Standard Protective Motorcycle Helmets While Driving and Providing Penalties Thereof;
- RA 8794—An Act Imposing Motor Vehicle User’s Charge on Owners of All Types of Motor Vehicles and for Other Purposes;
- RA 8750—An Act Requiring the Mandatory Compliance by Motorists of Private and Public Vehicles to Use Seat Belt Devices, and Requiring Vehicle Manufacturers to Install Seat Belt Devices in All Their Manufactured Vehicles;
- RA 10586—An Act Penalizing Persons Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Dangerous Drugs and Similar Substances, and for other purposes;
- RA 8749—An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Air Pollution Control Policy and for other purposes; and
- RA 4236—An Act To Compile The Laws Relative To Land Transportation And Traffic Rules To Create Land Transportation Commission And For Other Purposes.
Are these laws being implemented? Do we really need new laws for motorists or just strict enforcement of these laws? But because, presumably, we are law-abiding citizens, it is incumbent upon all of us to understand this new law (RA 10913) and the final version of its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). Quoted hereunder are the salient provisions:
Rule 2—Prohibition, coverage and exemptions
Section 4. Distracted Driving
Subject to the qualification in Sections 5 and 6 of this IRR, distracted driving refers to the performance by a motorists of any of the following acts in a motor vehicle in motion, or temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection, whether diplomatic, public or private:
- Using a mobile-communications device to write, send or read a text based communication, or to make or receive calls and other similar acts; and
- Using an electronic-entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculation and other similar acts.
A motorist holding a mobile-communications device or an electronic-entertainment or computing device in a motor vehicle in motion, or temporarily stopped at a traffic light or any intersection, shall be prima facie presumed to be engaged in distracted driving.
Section 5. Extent of Coverage
- The operation of a mobile-communications device is not considered to be distracted driving if done using the aid of a hands-free functions or similar device, such as, but not limited to, a speaker phone, earphones and microphone or other similar devices, which allow a person to make and receive calls without having to hold the mobile communication device: Provided, that the placement of the mobile-communications device or the hands-free device does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver.
For this purpose, the use of a mobile-communications or hands-free device shall be considered as interference to the line of sight of the driver when the highest point of the device is more than four (4) inches from the motor vehicle’s dashboard.
- Wheeled agricultural machineries, such as tractors; and construction equipment, such as graders, roller, backhoes, pay loaders, cranes, bulldozers, mobile concrete mixers and the like; and other forms of conveyances, such as bicycles, pedicabs, habal-habal, trolleys, kuliglig, wagons, carriages, carts, sledges, chariots or the like, whether animal or human powered, are covered by the provisions of this IRR as long as the same are operated or driven in public thoroughfares, highways or streets, or under circumstances where public safety is under consideration.
- The provisions of this IRR shall apply to a motorist of a vehicle in motion, and those which are stopped temporarily at a traffic light or any intersections. A motorist of a motor vehicle that is not in motion, or is pulled over the side of the road in compliance with traffic regulations, is not prohibited from using a mobile-communications or electronic devices as defined in this IRR.
Section 6. Exemptions
The provisions of this IRR shall not apply to the following:
- A motorist using a mobile phone for an emergency call to:
(i) A law-enforcement agency or agent to report a crime or prohibited act, accident, natural calamity, bomb threat/terrorist action, animal activism, infrastructure failure and biological, chemical, or radioactive hazard spill or release;
(ii) Government or non-governmental health-care provider, or a medical practitioner, and emergency rescue units, in instances requiring immediate medical attentions;
(iii) Fire department or non-governmental fire volunteers in the event of fire/explosions;
(iv) Other emergency services, agency or entity rendering electric, gas, water, chemical, towing and other similar services, in instances requiring immediate attention to save lives and properties or to remove hazards from the environment; and
(v) Other analogous circumstances.
- A motorist using a mobile phone while operating an emergency vehicle, or a private vehicle while responding to an emergency call.
Section 8. Penalties
Any person who shall violate any provision of this IRR shall be penalized with:
• A fine of P5,000 for the first offense;
• A fine of P10,000 for the second offense;
• A fine of P15,000 and suspension of driver’s license for three months, for the third offense; and
• A fine of P20,000 for the fourth offense and succeeding offenses, and revocation of driver’s license.”
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), through its no-contact apprehension policy, is reported as closely monitoring distracted drivers on the reimplementation of the Adda, along with the Land Transportation Office (LTO), and Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). According to MMDA Liaison Officer Atty. Victor Nunez, screen shots of the distracted drivers on their “high- definition closed circuit television cameras” will be used as evidence of the drivers’ violations. The MMDA will then coordinate with the LTO in tracing down the name and address to whom the plate number of the vehicle was registered. On its first day of implementation, July 6, 2017, the MMDA apprehended 72 drivers.
Too much government resources are spent on this Adda. And too many cooks involved! Doesn’t the MMDA, LTO and LTFRB have better things to do? Like, for instance, solving the worsening Edsa traffic, the daily breakdown of the Light Rail Transit—and, yes, what happened to my license plate?!!
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