ABUSIVE public utility vehicle drivers need to be banned for life from ever driving again, to protect the riding public.

This was one of the recommendations received by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) 7 and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) during the road safety and security council meeting at Sacred Heart Center yesterday.

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LTO 7 Director Raul Aguilos and LTFRB 7 Director Benjamin Go called the meeting in the wake of four vehicular accidents that have killed 40 persons in Cebu since June 13.

At the Capitol, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia called on all drivers of public utility vehicles to be more disciplined and also asked operators to make sure their buses are roadworthy.

“If they are good businessmen, they should see to it that their buses are roadworthy, that the safety and security of the passengers will be ensured, because accidents such as these can break your business,” Garcia said.

“Can you imagine the horrendous claims that will be filed against them by the victims of the accidents? We should not maximize profit, so we will not spend a lot more (in dealing with accidents),” Garcia said.

Today, the police will meet with the LTO, LTFRB and Cebu City’s Traffic Operations Management.

Among the recommendations Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez wants adopted during the meeting is to deputize the police, allowing them again to stop errant motorists and issue traffic citations.

Nerez also supports Go’s proposal to impose a perpetual ban on drivers responsible for accidents that kill passengers or pedestrians.

Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Erson Digal said criminal complaints of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide were filed against the driver of the bus that hit a wall in Toledo City last Saturday, killing 15 persons.

More complaints of reckless imprudence resulting in multiple physical injuries and damage to properties will follow.

The police are still gathering the statements of the injured victims still in the hospital, Digal said.

Senior Insp. Ruben Cuizon of the CPPO said “human error” was likely to blame.

“The driver lacked knowledge or was not proficient on the mechanics of his vehicle, when he found difficulty in shifting gears. The witnesses heard grating sounds as he attempted to change to a lower gear,” Cuizon said.

The bus was on its third gear when the accident took place, Cuizon added, and should have used a lower gear considering it was going downhill in an area with a sharp curve.

Signs

The PNP is also recommending that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) place more signs in Barangay Don Andres Soriano (formerly Lutopan), Toledo City, an accident-prone area.

Governor Garcia instructed the Provincial Social Welfare Office to assist the families of victims. Two weeks before last Saturday’s accident, a trailer slammed into a group of vendors also in Toledo City, killing four on the spot.

Aguilos, at the forum in Cebu City, said the LTO may revoke the license of a driver after receiving an official report from police traffic investigators that his or her errors caused a fatal accident.

Another recommendation that cropped up during the meeting was for bus operators to require their drivers to undergo neurological and drug tests every three months.

But Richard Corominas, president of the Cebu Provincial Bus Operators’ Association (CPBOA), said such tests can be given when the drivers have to renew their licenses every three years.

Go also suggested that operators reject driver-applicants who have met vehicular accidents that killed passengers. The LTO said its office has the pertinent records, which operators can check.

The LTO also proposed that drivers be subjected to monthly trainings and seminars.

Loads

Cebu South Mini-bus Operators’ Association president Julie Flores expressed his support for the proposal.

“Actually, all bus operators and our drivers are committed to road safety and security measures,” he said.

Corominas Bros. bus line owner Richard Corominas said buses get packed, despite the closed-door policy, because there are still passengers along the way.

“Yes, we have a closed-door policy when the bus leaves the terminal but, sad to say, when it goes through the cities and municipalities, naa gyud mga pasahero nga manakay mao na nga naa’y tendency mag-overload (there are passengers who wait, that’s why there’s a tendency to overload),” he said.

Corominas also suggested that drivers be subjected to neuropsychological tests. (EOB/RSB/JTG)