Road safety advocates headed by the Automobile Association Philippines are hoping that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will sign into law the Anti-Distracted Driving Bill before he ends his term on June 30.
Last June 6, the House adapted House Bill (HB) 4531 from Senate Bill 3211 that was filed on February 2, 2016 by Senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Sergio Osmena 3rd.
HB 4531 would prohibit drivers from using mobile phones and other gadgets while driving a motor vehicle, agricultural machinery, a construction vehicle and other forms of transportation such as bicycles, pedicabs, trolleys, habal-habal, kuliglig as well as human and animal-powered carriages.
Unless the President vetoes the bill, the measure will automatically become law 30 days after both chambers approve it.
In the amended version of the bill, the owner or operator of the vehicle—along with the offending driver—will be held liable and fined if found guilty.
Those found guilty will be slapped with a fine ranging from P5,000 for the first offense to P10,000 for the second offense and P15,000 for the third offense. The fourth offense carries a fine of P20,000 and cancellation of the driver’s license.
The measure does not just focus on drivers who are texting and calling but also those using electronic gadgets to play digital games, browse the Internet, watch movies, read e-books, perform calculations and other similar acts.
The only ones exempted are drivers who use a hands-free device or use their gadgets while their vehicle is stationary, but those who are temporarily halted by a red light or traffic enforcers are not exempted.
To ensure the effectivity of HB 4531, the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Land Transportation Office (LTO), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Philippine National Police (PNP) will conduct a nationwide public information campaign for six months.
The authors of House Bill 4531 are re-electionist Representatives Cesar Sarmiento (Catanduanes ), Rolando Andaya Jr. (1st District, Camarines Sur), Angelina Tan (4th District, Quezon City), Romeo Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City), Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Lone District, Camiguin), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Irwin Tieng (Buhay party-list), Michael Velarde (Buhay party-list), Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list), Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Diwa party-list) and former representatives Susan Yap and Diosdado Arroyo.
The Anti-Distracted Driving will go hand in hand with Republic Act 10586—also known as the Anti-Drunk Driving Law — which AAP welcomed after lobbying for its passage since the 1980s.
According to www.donttextdrive.com, “Individuals who drive while sending or reading text messages are 23 percent more likely to be involved in a car crash than other drivers. . .A crash typically happens within an average of three seconds after a driver is distracted.”
In April last year, the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2013, 10 percent or 2,910 out of the 30,057 fatal road crashes involved distraction (Of the 2,910, 2,959 were distracted drivers, as some crashes involved more than one distracted driver).
And with the arrival of the new administration, AAP hopes the Anti-Distracted Driving measure. Anti-Drunk Driving Law and other road safety-related laws will be strictly enforced.