Not grounded in practicality
For all intents and purposes, Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act had been crafted with good intentions, and it was only in the implementing rules and guidelines that the agencies set to enforce it have twisted and botched its vision and intent.
From the start, that law was supposed to take aim at drivers who text and receive calls while driving, a dangerous combination that had caused several accidents that led to deaths.
In fact, it had been argued that texting or using phones while driving had led to more road deaths than drunken driving or driving under the influence of drugs. So the lawmakers had a point when they began work on what would be RA 10913 because they believed that a law should be passed to remind motorists to be on alert all the time while on the road.
But when transport offices began including rosaries which had been long-time staples of devotion by the mostly Roman Catholic Filipinos, that was when things got troublesome.
In trying to justify the ban on rosaries and even common trinkets, traffic officials reason that these items also distract the driver’s attention from the road and from the drivers on the road at the time.
We have yet to hear of any driver — private motorist or public utility vehicle (PUV) driver — who died after touching the rosary and saying a little prayer before proceeding to his or her destination.
In fact, a lot of drivers may credit the rosary as helping them focus on being a good, courteous driver on the road, and traffic officials have yet to produce a single testimony or incident recorded in their blotters of any such eventuality.
Maybe they may consider drivers who didn’t figure in accidents but engaged in road rage clashes with fellow drivers while still having rosaries hanging in front of their windshields.
Also of concern is the prohibition against the use of dashboard cameras since they also supposedly distract the driver’s attention. Cebu-based residents are only too familiar with the David Lim Jr. case, and were it not for a dashboard cam that recorded Lim’s altercation with Filipino nurse Ephraim Nuñal, he would have gotten away scot-free. And what’s to stop him from shooting other people that got his goat in the future?
Again, what’s to stop other road rage drivers from committing acts of violence once that law makes good on its provision to ban dashboard cameras as well as rosaries from being installed inside vehicles?
It was only opportune that government suspends implementation of the law while both lawmakers and agencies tasked to implement it conduct a dialogue with stakeholders to further refine it and ground it in practical, everyday reality.
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