BESIDES being generally perceived as such, I also have it on good authority that the Land Transportation Office(LTO) is not any less corrupt under the Duterte administration. This means the agency is not any less incompetent because corruption feeds on incompetence which in turn fuels corruption.
Assuming this to be just mostly but not wholly true, still what can we expect from the two new laws on distracted driving and on the wearing of helmets and on children-passengers on a motorcycle?
The query’s validity rests on the generally observed fact that traffic-related accidents are a daily occurrence. Some of it might be attributed to lack of safety signs and barriers which are not the LTO’s look-out. But a lot can still be rightly dumped on the LTO’s and its partner agencies’ failure to enforce existing traffic laws.
Drivers run red lights, for instance, with reckless abandon because nobody is catching them. If caught, they can always pay their way out or buy their licenses back. That means reckless drivers are allowed practically unlimited moving violations.
It’s been a while since helmets have been required equipment for motorcycle riders but in Cebu Province outside of the cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Lapulapu, drivers with helmets are the few exceptions. Children have also been forbidden to ride on motorcycles for some time now but how often does one see even babies on them?
Don’t get me wrong. The new laws are well-intentioned and fit the bill. Too many fatal accidents have happened because a motorist was texting or calling on his cellphone while driving. (But not because a rosary hangs on the rear view mirror.) Also small children are inarguably most vulnerable in the event of a crash. Thus, these laws are in fact in urgent order and if enforced will save many lives.
But that’s precisely the rub. The LTO has never enforced the other easier-to-monitor traffic laws consistently and without let-up. And with the ningas cogon mentality being ooh sooo Filipino, for how long will LTO enforce these laws and how soon before they become new sources of “other income”?
It is good that LTO is reviewing what is obviously a difficult-to-enforce law on distracted driving. (The law on helmets and small children is fairly straightforward). Not only are valid complaints to be addressed but rules and regulations should also be designed for consistent and no let-up implementation. Unless this quality of enforcement is guaranteed the new laws will not make our roads any less risky to travel on.
I hate being a cynic but I have this feeling of déjà vu (been there done that!) that the LTO can take away only if they also start to enforce consistently and without let-up the other more basic traffic laws.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2017.
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