Wenceslao: Distractions | SunStar

Wenceslao: Distractions

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Wenceslao: Distractions

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I HAVEN’T tried Uber despite the hype and prefer still the cheaper taxis. In the decades of riding these public utility vehicles, I have observed that, more often than not, the units have a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror. I didn’t bother much about it until I bought a second hand vehicle from a friend with a similar rosary hanging from the rearview mirror. Now I couldn’t drive without touching the rosary and making the sign of the cross.

It’s an interesting exhibit of religiosity from among the mainly Catholic Filipino drivers. Some of them even glue small images of the Sto. Niño or the Virgin Mary on the dashboard instead of dog figurines with bobbing heads. For a long time I thought drivers just put them there and then forget about them. But many actually make these part of a ritual pleading for protection from accidents.

I don’t know how many of those practiced rituals were answered but I think these have an effect on drivers psychologically. The rituals or invocations done before a trip serve to remind the drivers of the hazards of driving, which in turn prompts them to be careful during trips. I don’t consider those rosaries on rearview mirrors and small religious images on dashboards as distractions.

Those I was surprised to read a report that quoted a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) official in Manila as saying that with the implementation of Republic Act 10193 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, those items must go. Apparently, Department of Transportation (DOTr) officials who are implementing the law do consider those items as distractions to driving.

I was about to plan where I would place my rosary when some senators complained about how the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) that DOTr officials are using in going after violators of the new law veered from its actual intention, which is merely to ban the use of cell phones while driving. Or at least that was what Sen. JV Ejercito impressed on me with his recent statement.

Yesterday, LTFRB and Land Transportation Office (LTO) people announced that they would momentarily focus more on an information campaign about RA 10193 and less on going after its violators—which is good considering the numerous complaints about the new law and its IRR. The could have created misconceptions when they started implementing the said law.

I myself still want to get convincing explanations on why those religious items should go. How can these be distractions? I am not about to go the way of others who are lambasting the new law’s implementers on religious grounds. Majority of DOTr officials, I reckon, are Catholics so they understand the practice.

This fuss over drivers’ “line of sight” while driving has actually become the butt of jokes among some netizens. While we’re at it, so goes one quip, why won’t DOTr officials also ban the use of wipers that could also be distractions for drivers? Why not ban the use of windshields altogether, goes another.

In the end, the main point of the law, which is to prevent accidents caused by drivers texting or receiving phone calls while driving, got lost.

Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on May 24, 2017.

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