Tour operators emphasize importance of rest to drivers
“Know when to stop driving.”
This is the advice of two Cebu-based tour operators to drivers in the wake of the Alegria crash, which killed seven balikbayans on a travel stopover in southern Cebu.
Jimmy Lumogdang, proprietor of Sunscreen Travel, said there are drivers who accept bookings even when they have been driving for several days without rest or sleep.
The company has been operating as a travel agency for seven years.
“There are (drivers of) vans who just accept bookings because they need to cope with monthly expenses,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.
Lumogdang described this as a dangerous practice because the chances of meeting accidents for drivers, who lack sleep, increase in this condition.
“In our case, we make sure that the drivers are well rested because if they lack sleep, if they are hungry, the chances of them meeting an accident is high. It is okay for me to spend extra money on their food and in hiring extra people so they can rest. If they overwork them and they meet an accident, then I will be spending more money. That is not good for both parties,” he said in Visayan.
Senior Inspector Efren Diaz, officer-in-charge of the Alegria Police Station, said Gilbert dela Cruz, the driver and owner of the gray Toyota Grandia with plate number AED 1299, admitted that he fell asleep at the wheel which caused the van to crash into the mahogany tree that stood right beside the road.
The accident killed seven out of the 10 passengers, some of them are doctors and nurses, who are Filipino immigrants with American citizenship.
The group were on a travel stopover in Cebu before supposedly going to Camiguin Island in northern Mindanao this week for a medical mission.
Emmanuel “Jun” Barretto Jr., manager of Cebu Trip Rent-A-Car, said they do not allow their drivers to work for more than 15 hours. In between the 15-hour schedule, they are told to rest and sleep.
The company has 23 vehicles, nine of which are vans. Cebu Trip Rent-A-Car has 20 drivers.
“It is our SOP (standard operating procedure) to not allow our drivers to drive for more than 15 hours. It is also part of our SOP to let the driver rest after long hours of driving,” said Barretto, who also operates a travel agency.
Barretto said it is important for tour operators to monitor the condition of each driver.
“We monitor their overtime and how long the length of duty is especially during this season,” he said.
Lumogdang said the Alegria crash will partly affect the rent-a-van business as tourists may be hesitant to book their services.
He said impact in the number of tourists may be coming from the international market noting that the accident involved Filipino immigrants who hold American citizenship.
“Maybe not so much (impact) for the local market because most of the bookings we have come from referrals of our previous clients. But the impact will probably come from (bookings) from other countries, the international tourists,” he said in a phone interview.
Lumogdang advised tourists to make sure that the operators or vans-for-hire have a solid reputation of providing safe and secure travel to tourists.
He said an accreditation from the Department of Tourism (DOT) is only one way of ensuring the legitimacy of the driver and the operator.
But he said tourists should also take an extra security measure in double checking the credibility of the tour operator and the drivers.
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