A few days ago, on May 18, 2017, the Philippine government passed a new law that was supposed to address the issue of distracted driving. While I believe that this is a good law “in principle” I think that the LTFRB was premature in having it implemented as it failed to address some issues and tried to institute measures that many have found irrational.
What is considered as “distracted driving”?
Republic Act (RA) 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (ADDA) defines “distracted driving” as using telecommunications or entertainment devices while in motion or when temporarily stopped at a red traffic light.
- Eating while driving is not classified as distracted driving.
- Putting on makeup while driving is not classified as distracted driving.
- Passing things back and forth to the driver of the vehicle (as jeepney drivers do when accepting fare and giving back change) is not classified as distracted driving.
It does not take into consideration that most people nowadays, not just drivers of ridesharing apps, use GPS software such as Waze or Google Maps to help them navigate to places they’ve never been or through heavy traffic.
It does not allow motorcycle and bicycle riders to attach a cellphone to their bike (usually placed in front behind the handlebars) even if the purpose is for navigation.
But what is even worse is when our traffic enforcers are not given adequate education on the law which allows them the make victims of law abiding citizens.
Let’s go back to what the anti-distracted driving law states … using telecommunications or entertainment devices while in motion or when temporarily stopped at a red traffic light. This netizen was neither in motion or temporarily stopped at a red traffic light. He pulled to the side, DID NOT GO ON THE SIDEWALK (which is for pedestrian use), and ONLY THEN checked his messages. So, tell me … WHY, oh why, traffic enforcers would you penalize him and cite the anti-distracted driving law?
- he wasn’t driving/riding
- he was not at a stop light
- he was not blocking traffic
And, you know what? He posits a valid point, why not penalize pedestrians who are on their phone while walking, too? Is that not a hazard as well?
- it means the pedestrian is distracted also and not paying close attention to where he/she is walking
- it is an invitation for unsavory elements to rob the pedestrian
Line of sight
Let us consider this … they did not say that we could not mount our cellphone or tablet, they said not within the line of sight. This photo taken from rappler.com shows what part of the car constitutes as “line of sight”. In a nutshell they are saying we cannot put anything on the dashboard because doing so would be a distraction.
Many netizens have gone up and arms, mostly those who use GPS. In response LTFRB says they are still allowing cellphones BUT at recommended locations such as:
- attached to the air vent
- behind the rearview mirror (for the dash cam) and not hanging under it
- behind the steering wheel in front of the display panel
LTFRB, have you really given this serious thought?
Ok, correct me if I wrong, but isn’t the point supposed to be that drivers are to keep their eyes on the road at all times? So … if I had to look/glance down to check the map on my phone would that not mean that I AM taking my eyes of the road? Am I not then distracted?
Personally, my preferred placement is on top of the dashboard on my right or right on the air vent. Anything lower than that is too low. Playing peekaboo with my phone behind the steering wheel is not an option unless I am prepared to hit another car or a pedestrian. Having my phone just at that height means that I have my phone on my periphery the entire time so glancing at the map is not difficult.
Understanding distracted driving
I think the infographic above taken from seafirstinsurance.com says it quite well:
- no personal grooming
- no using of handheld or portable electronic devices
- no listening and talking on handheld devices
- no texting or emailing
- no writing, printing, or sketching
- no reading of printed materials
- no entering of info on GPS units
If only LTFRB could state it as clearly as that then maybe there wouldn’t be such a hubub.