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MANILA, May 17 — The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will implement Thursday a law that would prohibit drivers of both public and private vehicles to use their mobile devices and other electronic gadgets that might interfere with their driving.
Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act prohibits motorists making or receiving calls, writing, sending or reading text-based communications, playing online games, watching movies, surfing or browsing the Internet, among others, while vehicles are in motion or temporarily stopped on a traffic light or an intersection.
Drivers are allowed, however, to apply hands-free function or applications in using such devices or gadgets as long as they do not obstruct with their line of sight. They may use their devices to make or take emergency calls to authorities in cases of a crime, accidents, bomb or terrorist threat, fire or explosion, instances needing immediate medical attention, or when personal and safety is compromised.
“This law aims to prevent road accidents while promoting road safety and responsible driving among our motorists. Our primordial concern is the safety of the riding public,” Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Edgar Galvante said in a press conference Wednesday which was also attended by officials of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and the PNP-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG).
Aside from public and private vehicles, the law also covers wheeled agricultural machineries, construction, equipment, and other forms of conveyances such as bicycles, pedicabs, trolleys, “habal-habal”, “kuligligs”, wagons, carriages, and carts that are either human-powered or pulled by an animal as long as these are operated or driven in public thoroughfares, highways or streets.
When asked on its impact to drivers of ridesharing services such as Uber and Grab that use navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps, Galvante stated: “The law is not singling out Uber and Grab drivers. They are advised to pull aside their vehicles in a way that does not obstruct traffic to refer to their gadgets when checking their routes.”
Furthermore, dashboard cameras that are installed behind the rearview mirror of vehicles do not distract motorists as these do not hinder their view of the roads.
For its part, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) will be utilizing its high definition cameras that can monitor lights from devices inside heavily tinted vehicles to determine whether or not a motorist commits distracted driving.
MMDA Legal Counsel Atty. Victor Nunez said that a memorandum circular setting specifications on the regulations of tints shall be released by the LTO soon upon consultation with tint manufacturers.
“We have already set a meeting with trade manufacturers next week for their presentation of the specifications of tints which we may adopt as inputs to the memorandum that is being drafted,” according to Nunez.
DOTr Assistant Secretary for Land Transportation Mark de Leon stated that it will conduct its public information campaign on the law. The LTO, in coordination with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP) and private agencies and organizations shall undertake Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign for a period of three months from effectivity of its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
“We hope that the law will instill road safety and discipline for everyone. Its effectivity does not rely on the number of violators that will be apprehended but if it could prevent road accidents,” according to de Leon.
RA 10913 was signed into law by former President Benigno Aquino III on July 27, 2015. It will take effect fifteen days after its IRR was published in the Official Gazette and a newspaper of general nationwide publication.
“The drafting of the IRR required consultations with various stakeholders and other agencies that is why it took much longer to be released. It has also undergone some revisions because of the turnover to the new administration,” de Leon explained.
Violators will be penalized with a fine of PHP 5,000 for the first offense, PHP10,000 for the second offense, and PHP15,000 for the third offense with a three-month suspension of driver’s license.
Violations incurred beyond the third offense shall be penalized with the revocation of driver’s license and a fine of PHP20,000.
Owners and operators of Public Utility Vehicles (PUV) and commercial vehicles found in violation of the said Act shall both be held liable.
The LTO is the lead implementing agency in the implementation of the act. It also has the authority to deputize members of the PNP, MMDA, and local government units (LGUs) to carry out enforcement functions and duties.
Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act
The Department of Transportation will also implement the law banning small children from riding motorcycles as passengers starting on Friday, May 19.
Under Republic Act 10666 or Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act of 2015, two-wheeled motorcycle riders may not be allowed to drive a motorcycle with a small child on board. Only children whose feet can reach the foot peg, could wrap their arms around the driver’s waist, and wears protective gear such as a helmet may be allowed to ride on a motorcycle with an adult.
The law covers all public roads, including roads where there is a heavy volume of vehicles, where there is a high-density of fast-moving vehicles, or where the speed limit is more than 60 kilometers per hour (kph). It however allows cases where a child to be transported requires medical attention.
Violators will be fined PHP3,000 on their first offense, PHP5,000 on their second offense, and PHP10,000 on their third offense and suspension of driver’s license for a month. Beyond the third offense, violators will have their licenses revoked.
The DOTr believes that this measure will ensure the safety of passengers, especially children.
The LTO shall be the lead implementing agency and may deputize traffic enforcers and LGUs for its enforcement. (Aerol B. Patena and Jazzelle Cayaban-OJT/PNA)