No more distracted driving

Many motorists have been unduly slowed down by vehicles ahead of them whose drivers are using mobile phones. Worse than slowing down traffic, however, using cell phones while driving has caused road accidents.

To prevent such accidents, the government has banned driving while using mobile phones effective today. A driver can still use his mobile phone if it’s hands-free and the device does not obstruct his eyesight, or if he pulls over in a spot where this is allowed, according to the Land Transportation Office. Phones cannot be used when the motorist simply stops for a red light, LTO officials said. Exemptions are allowed only for emergencies, when a driver has to call the police, a health care provider, the fire bureau or related offices.

The LTO is tasked to enforce Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. The ban is welcome especially in this country where there is poor road discipline and driving courtesy.

With the ban in effect, the main concern is proper enforcement by an agency that is hardly a model of efficiency. The LTO must coordinate closely with agencies in charge of traffic management, notably the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, to ensure that RA 10913 will be properly enforced.

The ban must also include the enforcement of rules on vehicle window tints. Heavy window tints not only conceal criminal activity but also endanger law-abiding passengers of the tinted car by impairing vision from inside the vehicle.

With the focus on road safety, authorities must also enforce rules on the brightness of vehicle headlights. Accidents have occurred because drivers were blinded by the overly bright headlights of vehicles approaching from the opposite lane. There are safety rules governing the brightness of vehicle lights, but these are hardly enforced. Authorities must make sure the ban on using mobile phones while driving does not suffer the same fate.

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