Bad rep

Ernesto F. Herrera

Ernesto F. Herrera

Motorcycles are a cheap and convenient way to get around our traffic jammed roads but motorcycle drivers in the country certainly need to drive a lot better.

The alarming statistics on motorcycle accidents in the country every year have given motorcycle drivers a bad reputation, which, it seems, they have no intention of ditching soon.

An average of 7,000 motorcycle units is sold in the country every week, according to government statistics, most of them to first-time users. But even those who’ve been driving around in them for quite some time are not exempted from boorish behavior on our roads.

I am one of those many motorists whose vehicle has been scratched and dented by a motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic several times. A couple of times the drivers who hit me didn’t even bother to stop; the other times, the drivers just scratched their heads, shrugged and apologized. Stuck in the middle of traffic, what can you really do?

Unfortunately, a good number of motorcycle accidents have led to deadlier results. Every day, newspapers and other media outlets report at least one motorcycle accident that result in either a serious injury or death. Or we see them on the roads ourselves.

Number 4 top killer
Mr. Takeshi Yano, president of Yamaha Motor Philippines Inc., said in a speech he delivered at Silliman University last year that motorcycle accidents account for the number four cause of deaths in the Philippines.

He noted the booming sales of motorcycles in the country, with over 3.4 million motorcycle users in the Philippines (at the time—and counting).

But most motorcycle users, he also noted, are beginners and lack proper training.

Based on Yamaha’s own survey, he said an average of 16,208 motorcycle accidents is recorded in the country every year.

Recognizing the need to address the growing number of motorcycle accidents, his company has been conducting a safe riding campaign, which incorporates lectures and drills aimed at highlighting the importance of road safety and the relevance of wearing protective gears, primarily helmets, among motorcycle drivers.

The Department of Health said nine out of 10 motorcycle riders killed in accidents were not wearing helmets.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the motorcycle accidents were part of the 13,883 injury cases in the last quarter of 2012, which were gathered from 86 government agencies and private hospitals.

The common causes of motorcycle accidents were head-on collisions, lane splitting (motorcycle driving between two lanes of slow moving cars), driving under the influence, going straight through an intersection, and passing or trying to overtake a car. Sound familiar?

A lot of motorcycle drivers seem to believe they are exempted from traffic rules. Transportation and traffic officials should really crack the whip on reckless motorcyclists, as they should do for all kinds of drivers. Bad driving is the number one cause of accidents for any kind of vehicle on our roads.

The issuance of driving licenses should be closely monitored, especially the practical or actual driving tests. There should be more stringent tests for motorcycle drivers because motorcycle accidents are more likely to result in serious injury or death. A good number of these accidents involve women and children too.

I know there are many responsible motorcycle drivers and drivers associations out there, who want to teach their fellow drivers about proper driving and safety-consciousness. I wish you well and may your tribe increase.

Oil tankers
Speaking of monitoring bad driving, government authorities should also strictly implement more safety measures to address the increasing number of accidents involving oil delivery trucks.

You’ve probably seen how some these oil delivery drivers drive. It’s no surprise they figure in accidents.

Are these oil truck drivers properly trained and accredited? They should undergo more stringent standards than most drivers. After all, they are driving huge vehicles that have the capacity to kill and maim a lot of people if they figure in an accident.

If you’re driving a truck carrying large quantities of highly combustible fuel, then the results of driver negligence can be a lot more disastrous.

Are oil trucks here inspected periodically to make sure they are not in disrepair? Are their drivers trained and screened properly according to the strictest of standards and government regulations? Do we have such regulations to begin with? I certainly hope so.

We shouldn’t be trucking huge quantities of oil to begin with. In many countries, including the US, pipelines are used to do this.

We have pipelines here in the Philippines too, like the 117-kilometer Batangas-to-Manila white oil pipeline that is currently closed because of a case that has been pending in the Supreme Court for three years.

The Department of Energy had already recommended the reopening of this pipeline and said it was safe to operate so why not use it?

Reopening the oil pipeline will certainly reduce the number of dangerous tankers plying petroleum products from Batangas to Manila, as well as help ease our horrendous traffic.


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1 Comment

  1. Armando Bansil on

    Almost all Filipino motorists lack traffic education. It is on a “first come first served” rule of the road. They do not observe the “right of way” rule. I will tell you a story. I almost bump into someone in my own lane. Sabi ko: Pare, hindi mo linya ito. And he replied: May kanal sa linya ko eh, at nauna naman ako sa iyo.