Editorial: Street smarts-A A +A
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
AT LEAST 50 road accidents occur every day in the Philippines. In 80 percent of these cases, “avoidable human error” is to blame.
These form part of the statistics, taken from the police and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), that two congressmen quoted in their proposal to introduce accident prevention courses.
Reps. Mariano Velarde Jr. and William Irwin Tieng of Buhay Party-list filed their proposal last October, a year before a Jegans bus crashed into a wall in Toledo City last Saturday night, killing seven persons and causing injuries to more than 40 others.
If present trends continue, Velarde and Tieng said in House Bill 5436, road accidents could become the top cause of death in the country in 2020.
That’s why they want an accident prevention course required of all applicants for a driver’s license, whether professional or non-professional. Each course is supposed to last a minimum of five hours and 30 minutes, and cover such topics as traffic laws, defensive driving, and “handling critical situations” like rough weather.
They also propose to fund research on the effectiveness of the prevention course, by comparing how often accidents occur among drivers who have taken it, against those who haven’t.
It seems like a logical proposal, especially when one considers how often human error causes road accidents.
Figures from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) are even grimmer than those from the PNP and MMDA. From 2004 to 2007, the DPWH reported that 89.5 percent of over 25,300 road accidents were caused by human error. Only 8.1 percent could be attributed to vehicular defects and less than three percent to road conditions.
But in proposing to require accident prevention courses for all drivers, the two congressmen gloss over the fact that a good majority of drivers follow road rules, heed traffic signs, and observe other precautions for safe driving.
Existing mechanisms would suffice to rein in a reckless minority, if these were enforced fairly and consistently. More random roadside drug tests, for one—and not just during peak seasons like this week—would help prevent accidents. So, too, would regular reviews of the safety records of public transport providers.
There is no need to impose accident prevention courses across the board, if existing road rules and safety mechanisms were more strictly observed.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 30, 2012.