MANILA— At least two senators have called on the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to temporarily suspend the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, which has confused drivers of both public and private vehicles, until its Implementing Rules and Regulations have been clarified.
Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the DOTr seemed to have made the enforcement of the law more “complicated” when it was simply about banning the use of mobile phones and other gadgets while driving.
Ejercito, vice chair of the Committee on Public Services, noted that mobile phones should be permitted when used for navigational purposes to aid motorists from steering clear of heavy traffic.
“It is counter-intuitive when using Waze or other navigation apps since the use of cellphone is less dangerous if it is within the line of sight. Every second that the driver’s eyes are on the road counts,” Ejercito said.
He urged the DOTr to reconsider the strict provisions regarding the placement of mobile phones within the line of sight of drivers.
“We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly placed, it is okay,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, like Ejercito, said the law should be reevaluated as there were too many public complaints particularly on placing rosaries, figurines and other accessories that block the view of the road.
“I-suspend muna habang ineevaluate. Masyadong maraming reklamo ang mga kababayan natin (It should be suspended while it is being reevaluated. There are too many complaints),” Sotto said.
Sotto said the law was not meant to drive confusion.
“We did not intend the law that way. It was supposed to be for safety concerns,” he added.
The Anti-Distracted Driving Act (Republic Act 10913) prohibits motorists making or receiving calls, writing, sending or reading text-based communications, playing online games, watching movies, surfing or browsing the Internet, among others, while vehicles are in motion or temporarily stopped on a traffic light or an intersection.
Drivers are allowed, however, to apply hands-free function or applications in using such devices or gadgets as long as they do not obstruct with their line of sight.
They may use their devices to make or take emergency calls to authorities in cases of a crime, accidents, bomb or terrorist threat, fire or explosion, instances needing immediate medical attention, or when personal safety is compromised.
Violators will be penalized with a fine of PHP 5,000 for the first offense, PHP10,000 for the second offense, and PHP15,000 for the third offense with a three-month suspension of driver’s license.
Meanwhile, violations incurred beyond the third offense shall be penalized with the revocation of driver’s license and a fine of PHP20,000.