Gone too soon

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Monday, January 20, 2014


DEAD at age 27, motorcycle driver Gary Aniban was “like the loss of sunlight on a cloudy afternoon gone too soon,” as Michael Jackson crooned. Aniban drove his motorbike and back rider straight into a parked dekarga in Barangay Mansilingan, Bacolod City, at about 2:30 a.m. late last week.

Inspector Roger Ong of the Traffic Management Unit suspected that Aniban and back rider were under the influence of alcoholic liquor and had no crash helmets. Had Aniban survived, he could be held culpable for violating Republic Act No. 10586 and might have to pay P500,000.

For failing to wear crash helmets, Aniban and his back rider could be fined P1,500 if they had no priors for violating Republic Act No. 10054 requiring all motorcycle riders to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets.

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Yet better gone too soon of money to pay the fines, than to die gone too soon. We can always recover our money losses but never our lives.

The dekarga driver could be held liable for failure to install early warning devices four meters from the front rear of his parked truck and has to pay a fine of P500.

TMU records show that three persons have been killed in vehicular accidents for the first month of 2014. From January to August 2013, motorcycle accidents reached 4,150, with 20 fatalities.

For that matter, TMU reported that during the first eight months of 2012, Bacolod had 3,294 motorcycle accidents resulting to 14 deaths. By August of 2013, motorcycle accidents have spiked and reached 4,150, with 20 fatalities.

TMU blamed most accidents to overspeeding, driving under the influence of liquor, and failure to wear prescribed helmets.

Wearing an approved helmet cuts the risk of death by 37 percent, revealed US researches. Its National Highway Traffic Safety Administration produced studies showing that death rates jump when helmet laws are repealed. Conversely, wearing approved helmets cuts the risk of death by 37 percent.

What do these motorcycle accidents indicate? Obviously, our motorcycle drivers never learn. Many drivers I talked to insist that a) there is no traffic at night or the wee hours of the morning; b) they know how to handle their drinks; c) travel is a short distance. But our TMU—and our Land Transportation Office—it seems never learned.

Even during rush hours, people can see several motorcycle drivers and their passengers with no helmets on. Obviously these traffic violators have no fear of the law. Law enforcement is so spotty that many drivers they can get away with the violations.

If one is to play the blame game, these needless deaths can be blamed not just on the violators but on government people who fail to enforce the rules.

What are the tests for DUI? Initial tests to assess and determine intoxication are field sobriety tests which include the horizontal gaze, the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn and other similar tests.

For all the late happy nights out in Bacolod, however, I have yet to read from our police beats of our local law enforcers’ arrest of drivers who are DUI or have no prescribed helmets. Can we expect more youth victims to die this year?

Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon. Gone too soon.

(bqsanc@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 20, 2014.

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