Road Safety and Driving in the Uplands

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, February 10, 2014


THE road conditions in the uplands are totally different compared to anywhere in the lowlands and therefore the manner of driving should not be taken as just the usual. For many times, I have observed motor riding friends speeding in down hills and I often informed them that the shifting of speed and gears while in the lowlands should not be likened to that in Baguio or anywhere in the Cordillera. Many just could not see the importance of shifting to low gear while motoring downhill and what many does is to step the brake to lessen or reduce the speed accelerated by gravity. The "shift to low gear" signs posted in sloping roads are likewise different to the "reduce speeds" warnings near highway toll kiosks as the former is meant to lessen the speed mechanically in what is known as engine break. Engine break means that the transmission gears meant for low speeds will keep the vehicle from speeding.

The incident of a speeding bus that fell from a skyway and causing massive deaths to its passengers and people below plus the recent road mishap where a bus fell into a deep ravine somewhere in Mountain Province are two remote instances that tells us important things about road safety and correct driving. While I may not be an expert of this particular field, I believe that anyone who holds a Professional Driver’s License should know and understand the implications of driving fast in both road conditions.

Another topic that I would like to delve into is the safety rules when driving for all purposes. A 2012 record from the Department of Transportation and Communications reveals that there are about 13 million issued driver’s licenses and about 7.5 million motor vehicles registered. According to the DOTC data posted by Top Gear Philippines, 79 percent of road crash fatalities are caused by driver error and only 11 percent are crash fatalities caused by defective vehicles. Same report says that 10 percent of road crash fatalities are caused by bad road conditions and ill-maintained roads. Road crashes caused by trucks in the first half of 2013 marks at 16 percent and road crashes caused by trucks in 2012 is pegged at 12 percent.

Cordillera's Marcos Hi-way, Naguillian Road and Halsema Highway gained notoriety for road mishaps such as the latest bus that fell 120 meters below killing 15 and injuring passengers. Driving along the interior towns of the Cordillera with a huge vehicle is a tough thing to do and it certainly requires a sound vehicle and driver. I haven’t really driven much hereabout in the upland interiors but I know that a good steering and braking system is a must including good tires preferably with an off-road traction.

In my recent Facebook update, I uploaded a photo of my grandson that shows him with all smiles at the front seat of our family car captioned “Aki loves Sunday not sundae because he gets to joyride”. Since it’s a Sunday, we had a mid-morning drive-around with my six months old grandson inside a carrier that is strapped with a car seat. With that post, I received a reaction in the form of a friendly personal message by someone who can’t help but call my attention about it.

Concerned about my grandchild's safety while riding the car, the FB friend believes that it is not advisable for a baby with carrier be placed at the front seat of a car. She notified me that here are videos that shows great harm when accidents occurs especially with a baby on board. I did realize her point as I too have seen car tasting demonstrations and read about babies killed not by the car collision but by the hard impact of the inflating bag called Supplemental Restraint System or SRS.

I thanked the online friend and I assured her that it’s only for a short drive from my place to the vicinity of city parks that I took the baby for a ride in front with the strapped carrier. In fact, one cannot drive more than 40 KPH in the busy streets of Baguio.

Our exchanges of messages as a result of my post of a baby I the front seat made me realize that we seldom or haven’t heard of police apprehensions of its kind compared to the United States or in other developed nations.

In my search for tips on proper baby seating inside cars, I came across a site http://www.babycentre.co.uk for that purpose by a baby center company based in Europe and it tells about certain laws on child car seats.

The site says that children under three must use a child car seat that is appropriate for his weight in any vehicle that he travels in, whether he is sitting in the front or the back. The site also tells parents to keep their child in a rear-facing seat for as long as possible, which usually means until the toddler is just over a year old. It also says that if one can't fit a child seat for the baby, then they can't travel legally with the baby.

The site advices further that rear-facing baby seats mustn't be used in a seat that's protected by a front airbag, unless the airbag has been deactivated. With that, I learned a lesson thanks to social media and its friendly users.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 11, 2014.

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