Holiday season: a time for celebration, cheers and merriment, gift giving and being with family, friends and loved ones. This is usually what comes with one of the most anticipated parts of a year. This wasn’t the case three years ago however as a Don Mariano bus fell off the Skyway in Bicutan, Taguig City, and landed on a delivery van below crushing the driver to death.The bus driver survived but 18 of his passengers never got to celebrate Christmas while at least 20 were injured. Investigation later showed that the bus had worn-out tires and the driver tested positive of banned drugs, and was over speeding. The year earlier, on July 4, 2012, a Don Mariano bus also went over the railing of the EDSA flyover in Ortigas, San Juan City. Ten passengers were hurt. A massive traffic jam followed while the bus hanged on the railing of the flyover for hours.Investigation showed the bus was over speeding and the driver was texting when the crash happened.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) says that a combination of driver error and speeding are the two leading causes of vehicle crashes in the Philippines. The report shows that driver error makes up 26 percent of the causes while speeding takes 18 percent. The Philippines alone has a record of 995 persons killed and over 6,790 injured in road crashes nationwide in 2003 alone according to the same report. The ADB though states that these figures are actually higher because of severe under-reporting by local authorities. ADB’s estimates are more in the 9,000 killed and 493,970 injured figures.
This is the sad state of the traffic in the Philippines. Accidents, traffic collisions, injuries and death can be found everywhere – no street is perfectly safe. Aimed to address this, two major legislations on road safety lapsed into law – the speed limiter law and the anti-distracted driving law. Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, lead proponent of both bills in the Senate, said these two laws should help in the campaign for safer roads.
“It is really important that we make motorists safer on the roads because many of the victims are pedestrians and even children. Besides, it is very tragic when someone dies or becomes incapacitated because of some reckless person driving a metal menace on the roads,” Ejercito said.
“Bus drivers in Metro Manila for example, will drive very fast because they need to make as many trips as they can. But these drivers have been working for more than 12 hours already. Their attention and alertness are compromised and when something happens on the road, they cannot react swiftly or correctly, causing them to crash, hurt or even kill people,” he said.
Commuter groups have demanded that speed limiters, like those installed in British, African and Australian buses and trucks, should be installed on the massive vehicles traversing our roads. Although there are already a few brands of this system available (ieAutokontrol), until the passage of the speed limiter law, no bus or truck company could be expected to utilize what is to their eyes nothing but an additional and unnecessary expense – turning blind to the holistic benefits from these devices.
Road safety advocates like James Deakin believes that the implementation of the speed limiter law, anti-distracted driving law and a dash-cam law should lower the incidence of death caused by road crashes. Also saying that until driving education is improved, there can only be so much that can be done to minimize injuries or fatalities on the road.
“It’s how we drive that is the real cause of all these crashes. Many drivers have never had real formal training in driving. What we have are people who know how to operate a machine but have no idea of the nuances of road and traffic discipline. To them it is always a race,” saysDeakin.
I am sure a good number of you will agree that until our drivers, especially those who drive for a living, actually get proper training, will always tend to want to race against each other for that next fare, and the next fare, on end. At the end of the day they then race home to feed their families. But, at the speeds at which they do this, they may not get home.