BY THE time you read this, the so-called Regional Council for Road Safety shall have met. I didn’t even know such
a body exists until Land Transportation Office (LTO) Regional Director Raul Aguilos made a big show of convening it yesterday supposedly to discuss “a specific plan of action to keep passengers safe.”
I do not know whether to laugh or cry. It took four major road accidents and 40 deaths for the LTO official to realize the need to come up with a plan to keep land transportation safe to passengers! What a travesty.
Twenty Iranians and the Filipino driver died on June 13 when the tourist bus carrying them careened off the Transcentral Highway into a ravine. A few days later, a cargo truck plowed into a crowd of devotees waiting for a procession to begin in Toledo City, killing four.
Not long thereafter, a Ceres bus fell on its side in northern Cebu but its passengers apparently lived charmed lives and were spared. Last Saturday, a passenger bus rammed a concrete fence, again in Toledo, resulting in 15 deaths.
I probably would have felt better if Aguilos continued doing what he did, which was nothing. After all, neither he nor the LTO were to blame for the accident.
In the Iranian tragedy, the road was unsafe. In the case of the runaway cargo truck, maybe it was because of the location of the chapel or the timing of the fiesta celebration or the piety of the churchgoers. The Ceres accident could have been caused by a slippery road. And the concrete fence shouldn’t have been there last Saturday.
Indeed, what can Aguilos or his agency do? Ground the fleet of the bus or trucking company involved? They’ve already done that. Suspend their franchise? Finished. Suspend or revoke the driver’s license? Accomplished.
Which is why I think the call for the Road Safety Council to convene is nothing more than a feeble attempt to mollify an incensed public. Their recommendations will be predictable: Inspect all the buses. Train all the drivers. Review all the franchises. Good grief. I’d rather watch Desperate Housewives Season 5. At least the ending is not as predictable.
Or maybe, but only maybe, they could ask Congress to pass a law: filling up ravines, banning sharp curves and steep climbs, prohibiting chapels and other places of worship near the highway, requiring vehicles to have rubber side cushions, ordering building owners near the highway to build only fences made of banana plants and all such other measures as would promote the safety of passengers on the road.
Now, that’s what I call thinking out of the box.