The Perils of Distracted Driving in Zambales

The road can be very scary. I have been commuting to work every single day and recently, I have passed by and saw what’s left of vehicular accidents. Trucks, vans – you name it.

Unfortunately, although I have not known the fate of the driver nor the passengers of those accidents, I know how scary it is to be in an accident. Years ago, we were riding a minibus when it we heard a loud explosion that came from the blown tire of the bus.  The bus was fast, crossed the middle of the road, went to the slope side of the highway, hit a tree and fell on its side.

It was traumatic. People died and many were injured, including my father and I.

The reason for this crash: the driver over sped when a public utility jeep passed it by.

Most roads in Zambales do not have sufficient traffic signs and signals similar to that of other progressive provinces in the Philippines. Even if there are more, accidents can happen anytime and no amount of caution can guarantee that all motorists follow best practices while driving.

The common means of transportation that drive through the roads in the province include private, commercial, agricultural and public motor vehicles. Common modes of public transport in Zambales include tricycles, jeepneys and buses.

Driving is an activity that requires focus and alertness. Even a small amount of distraction and slight miscalculation can lead to unimaginable losses. In fact, human error followed by mechanical issues, were the major leading causes of road accidents in the Philippines in 2012. While many drivers know that sharing the road with care is of utmost importance, lives had been lost, properties had been damaged, health of victims and negligent drivers had been negatively affected.

Distraction can be anything that can result in a driver losing his or her attention to the road, which in turn, can affect the reaction time before a crash. A distraction may be visual, manual or cognitive. Acts, such as tuning the radio or turning up or down its volume, looking at signs or billboards, eating, checking or refocusing mirrors, and using any handheld device can result in an accident that may lead to a traffic offense, a lawsuit, property damage, bodily harm and even death.

Many drivers fail to keep their eyes on the road because of using mobile phones while driving. From my experience, many tricycle, jeepney, and bus drivers often use their mobile devices behind the wheel.

Communication is a necessity but on the road, it can cause distraction.

Data from MMDA suggested that thousands of accidents in 2011 in Metro Manila, which occurred for unknown reasons, could be attributed to cellphone use. In 2009, inattention is the second cause of traffic accidents resulting in 32 deaths, according to data from Automobile Association of the Philippines.

Today, a jeepney driver used his phone while we are commuting to work.

In Zambales, many drivers are not akin to the idea of how dangerous a simple act of making or receiving a phone call or texting is. While drivers of private vehicles are also liable in case of an accident resulting from mobile phone use while driving, public utility vehicle drivers should be mindful about their passengers. Tricycle drivers, for instance should keep in mind that their vehicles are not as sturdy and do not have the same protection as those of bigger vehicles. Jeepney and bus drivers should remember the safety and the lives of the number of people they carry.

The best way to avoid an accident is to anticipate that not all motorists are cautious enough. Prevention and education play a vital role in traffic safety.

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