Thursday, August 21, 2014

Promoting Safe And Enjoyable Land Travel

Promoting Safe And 
Enjoyable Land Travel
By Ernesto T. Solidum

Ernesto T. Solidum
“Traffic Rules and Regulations” is topic discussed in the weekly Kapihan on August 16, 2014 held at NVC Carmen Hotel. The guests are Chief Insp. Pedro M. Enriquez, Kalibo PNP, Valtimor D. Conanan, Head LTO and Reynaldo A. Agcawili, Pres., Kalibo Pobl. Tricycle Optrs and Drivers Credit Coop. (Kapotodcco).

The rational for road traffic safety focuses on World Health Organization findings that the annual death toll due to road accidents is 1.2 million. The Asean Strategic Transport Plan lists 75,000 deaths, 4.7 million injuries and $15 billion damage to property among Asean countries every year.
In Metro Manila, the UP National Center for Transportation Studies reported that in 2003, the leading cause of injuries was vehicular accidents involving 9,000 road crash fatalities. On this basis, the objective of Road Safety Management is to reduce fatalities from 4.2 to 2.0 percent or save 3,400 lives annually.

According to Mr. Conanan, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is implementing DOTC Joint Adm. Order No. 2014-001. It imposes drastic fines for violation of traffic rules and regulations. Where before minimum penalty was only P1,000. Today the penalties are for colorum buses - P1 million; passenger van - P200,000; tricycle - P6,000; non-wearing of PS helmet - P1,000; reckless driving - P2,000; smoke belching vehicles on road inspection - P3,000; and non-wearing of seatbelt - P1,000. Other sanctions are revocation of driver’s license, franchise, impoundment of vehicle and imprisonment.

Road users or drivers must be educated on traffic signs such as regulatory, warning, guide or info, special instruction and roadwork posted conspicuously along or above the road as in bridge overpass. The presence of undisciplined drivers and stakeholders is due to the dearth of knowledge on road traffic education. We need to start this among school children like program on “Walk this Way” and Defensive Driving averred Conanan.

The police has the mandate to enforce all traffic rules and regulation like the parking/no parking areas, no loading/unloading zones, no vehicle entry, one way streets. Ironically, the international road signs like the no parking, no entry are now posted in bold letters yet many motorists disobey or just ignore them. Pedestrians must use the pedestrian lane or cross on street corners and walk against incoming traffic to the left. Passengers must board in bus or van terminals and expect to be dropped in unloading zone. How many of our riding public and drivers care about personal safety and comfort during travel? An educated guess could be only half, laments Chief Insp. Enriquez.

Mr. Agcawili revealed that Kapotodcco is reorganized in August 2012 and registered with CDA on March 3, 2013. It has 120 regular members and 1,600 associate members. The membership fee is P100 while subscribed capital is P4,000 payable in 4 yearly installments.

All transport services must abide with the existing traffic rules and regulations as well as transport policy of LGU Kalibo which include ban on tricycle outsiders from operating inside Poblacion Kalibo, tricycle rerouting scheme, use of proper uniform (vest, jacket, long pants, and rubber shoes) and phasing out of outmoded or decrepit tricycle units.

To get rid of surplus number of tricycles is to decongest Kalibo streets. We encourage our members to bond together, replace their units with brand new multicabs. Kalibo is a tourist hub and gateway to Boracay. Franchise service routes could initially be suburban Kalibo and later the Pook Jetty Port and Kalibo Circumferential road. However, the plan will materialize if an enabling law is passed to this effect, Agcawili suggested.

LTO has rescinded the drug testing requirement prior to acquiring new driver’s license or its renewal. The mandatory smoke emission testing must also be abolished. Mr. Conanan deflects this issue to the Task Force composed of DTI, DOH, DOST, and DENR that approve license of private contractors. National data on smoke emission tests show less than 1 percent only of all vehicles tested are disapproved. Since the Clean Air Act of 1997, operators of vehicles pay to LTO exorbitant fees ranging from P300 to P450 per unit irrespective of year model as long as it runs on the road. This made highways, roads and avenues in the Philippines filled with smog and increased the number of people with chronic respiratory diseases, asthma and cardiovascular diseases.

Pound for pound, a motorcycle spews more carbon gasses into the atmosphere than a car because the latter is equipped with catalytic converter to trap harmful residue as a result of combustion. In view of this, it is logical that 2 stroke motorcycles especially utilized for sidecar must be banned. If we need a pollution-free environment, we must strongly adopt 4 stroke gasoline engines. The 2 stroke MC’s may be deployed or relegated to secondary or tertiary roads. (2 stroke MC is banned in China 15 years ago. Therefore, the Philippines serves as dumping ground for rejected motorcycles.)  

Unauthorized vehicle modification must be strictly implemented by law enforcers. Multicab operators have the nasty habit of increasing body length and transmission shaft without making proper adjustment of bearings size, tires and engine unit of vehicle. This practice jeopardizes safety of riding public and road stakeholders. Data show that one third of road fatalities are pedestrians and bystanders.

The same is true of single motorcycle used as “habal-habal” found in all provinces and cities of the country. They are oftentimes called daredevils for handily negotiating cross country roads, off tracks carrying 3 to 4 back passengers plus 1 in front of driver racing at speeds of 20 to 30 kilometers per hour. Other cumbersome loads are sacks of palay, corn, copra, vegetables and fruits. Virtually all safety precautions are ignored here: no protective gear like helmets, jackets, shoes, and hand gloves. Worst for some drivers are minors who don’t possess driver’s license. (Even deaf mute is allowed to drive in Aklan.) Under the circumstances, prospective passengers, other vehicles and pedestrians must confront imminent dangers as loss of life or limb. Indeed life is harsh for those living in remote barangays connected with rails and narrow gravel road.

The fundamental solution to safe and efficient transportation lies in 3 strategies namely: a) proper road engineering design and construction of roads and bridges by DPWH and PEO, b) education on road safety by LTO and NGO and c) law enforcement by PNP and LTO. These are complementary and explicitly provided for under the mission/goals of concerned government agencies.

We decry loss of lives during typhoons, floods, and earthquake but road carnage cases each year are mounting and more numerous because authorities and stakeholders tend to ignore basic road safety management. /MP

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