Senate approves bill vs 'distracted driving'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2016 11:06 PM

PH one of the last countries without such a law, says Osmeña

MANILA -- The Senate recently approved five new bills, including one which seeks to prohibit and penalize "distracted driving."

Senator Serge Osmeña, acting chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services, said the Senate approved on third and final reading Senate Bill No. 3211, or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, to protect the public from "from the ruinous and extremely injurious effects of vehicular accidents."

Once signed into law, the bill would make "distracted driving" unlawful.

"The mere fact that you are seen by law enforcers as using a cellular phone, wireless telephone, two-way radio transceivers, pagers, and other similar devices capable of receiving signals through electronic or any other means, that means you're already violating the law. Nakita ka lang nagsasalita ka sa cellphone mo na nagdadrive ka, that's a violation already. That's a law violation," Osmeña said in an interview on ANC's Top Story.

Osmeña also explained the penalties for violation of the law, with fines ranging from P5,000 to P20,000. A person who repeatedly violates the law may also have his or her license revoked.

"Binibigyan namin ng break naman. First offense, hindi masyadong mabigat 'yung penalty, a fine of P5,000. Second offense, P10,000. Third offense, P15,000 plus suspension of driver's license for three months. Kapag may 4th offense, P20,000 and revocation of driver's license," he said.

According to Osmeña, the Philippines is among the last few countries without a law against distracted driving.

"I just want to inform the public that distracted driving laws are enforced in every Western country in the world. We're one of the last to pass it," he said.

Distracted driving is defined as performing acts such as "using a mobile communications to write, send, or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls,” along with “using an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations, and other similar acts," while driving a vehicle in motion or stopped at a red light.

"That's a gray area. Kasi nakasulat sa batas, if you are stopped at a red light, you still cannot use, you are still not allowed to use your mobile device," Osmeña said.

"We did not take into consideration the traffic in Manila," he added.

The use of mobile phones in cases of emergencies, including calls to law enforcement agencies, health care providers, fire department and other similar agencies, or using mobile phones while providing emergency assistance, will be allowed under the proposed bill.