WITH one vehicular accident occurring every seven minutes in Metro Manila alone, road mishaps are now becoming an epidemic resulting in deaths, injury and traffic congestion a lawmaker said on Tuesday.
Senate president pro-tempore Ralph Recto said that the rising number of road accidents should prompt the government to come up with a reliable emergency accident response teams that would ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians
Based on the data of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at total of 77,000 vehicular accidents were recorded in 2011 alone.
Of the number 370, or about one a day, resulted in fatalities; 15,827, non-fatal injuries; and 60,913, caused damage to property.
“My point is that the carnage on the streets and the chaos on our roads should prompt a readjustment in MVUC (motor vehicle user’s charge) spending. The body controlling it should depart ‘from the traditional signs-asphalt overlay-reflectorized markers’ that once dominated its expenditure list,” Recto insisted.
Recto was referring multibillion-peso road user’s tax collection of the government earmarked by law for road safety.
Recto said about P800 million—representing the mandatory 7.5 percent—of the P11.7 billion collected last year from motor vehicle registration fees, is the minimum amount available annually for “road safety” programs.
The Senator explained that based on the Republic Act 8794 or the law that created the MVUC , all collections from road user’s tax must be spent for road safety, but there’s a provision in the law specifically setting aside 7.5 percent of what’s collected for road safety.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the law states that 7.5 percent of total collections shall be placed in a “Special Road Safety Fund” and allotted for “roadway improvements and repairs designed to reduce conflicts in traffic flow and the likelihood and severity of accidents.”
This means that it can be used not only for traffic signals, markings, lanes, traffic channelization techniques, traffic calming measures, but also for road safety education and training programs.
Recto said the government should use the funds to procure ambulances which can be stationed in traffic-prone highways, patrol cars which can run after overspeeding vehicles, and tow trucks to clear roads of stalled vehicles.
The fund should also pay for garage inspections of bus, taxi, truck, garbage truck companies that will conduct road safety seminars for drivers and “to check if tires are so worn-out that the vehicles on which they are installed are now accidents waiting to happen.”
MVUC collections, which are expected to hit more than P12 billion this year, are treated as “off-budget” items, meaning details of their spending are not included in the national budget.
With the spate of rod accidents happening in the country, mostly involving public utility vehicles (PUV), Recto said it is time to maximize the of MVUC to protect the public.
It is the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) that is responsible in making sure the road worthiness of the all PUVs, and in conducting garage inspection.
The MMDA on the other hand is responsible for Metro Manila’s traffic management and going after traffic violators.
But observers noticed the failure of the agencies in performing its mandate since illegal PUVs continues to ply along major thoroughfares endangering the lives of passengers because most of its drivers have not undergone proper training.
The MMDA is also ineffective in eradicating the major roads of unruly PUV drivers that don’t only cause traffic congestion but also endanger the lives of passengers and other motor vehicles.
These despite of the existence of various ordinance passed by the Metro Manila Council (MMC), the policy making body of the MMDA, to help improved the traffic situation and safety of motorist and pedestrians in the region.
Unlike the time of former MMDA chair Bayani Fernando, current MMDA chair Francis Tolentino, according to observers, seems to be not doing anything to address Metro’s traffic mess. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA