Anti-Distracted Driving Law draws mixed reactions

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 17 2017 09:15 PM

The Anti-Distracted Driving Law will be implemented nationwide Thursday, and it has already drawn mixed reviews from motorists.

Gadgets such as mobile phones mounted on a vehicle's windshield will be banned under the Anti-Distracted Driving Law as these obstruct the driver's line of sight.

Alvin Vera Cruz, a partner driver for on-demand transport service Uber, disagrees with its implementation, saying drivers rely on applications on mobile phone to navigate traffic with only seconds of glimpses. 

Vera Cruz said some drivers may find a way to get around the new law. 

"Paano namin mananavigate yung ano, hindi lahat ng Uber driver o Grab (transport service) driver alam yung pasikot-sikot ng Metro Manila so mangyayari po niyan iti-tinted lahat ng sasakyan," he said.

He is also thinking of seeking help from his passengers. 

"Suggest namin sila na maghawak cellphone namin, sila mag-navigate. Kung 'di sila pumayag hawakan celfone namin, celfone nila gagamitin namin." he said.

But another Uber driver have found ways to follow the law and at the same time navigate Metro Manila's congested roads. 

Michael Felix has been with Uber for almost five years, and since then he has been using earphones to answer text and calls. He places his cellphone not on his windshield but on a car mount attached to one of the air ducts of his car's air conditioner.

"Nakaka-distract ho talaga dahil unang una concentration mo sa kalsada mawawala ka dahil nakahawak yung kamay mo sa cellphone sa tenga. Eto mas safe ang ganito dahil habang nagmamaneho ka sa dalawang kamay, nakakausap mo pa customer," he said.

Meanwhile, Gus Lagman, president of the Automobile Association of the Philippines, welcomed the new law saying “it’s about time" that the country implemented such measure. He said other countries have also started enforcing rules against using cellphones while driving.”

"Mas masama pa kaysa drunk driving kasi hindi ka nakatingin sa kalye eh, so talagang mas marami aksidente dahil sa texting kaysa under the influence of liquor or nakainom," Lagman said.

"Kasi kung nakainom ka nakatingin ka pa rin sa kalye, yung magtetext ka hindi nakatingin sa kalye tapos mabubulagta ka na lang, andyan na nabangga kana o malapit kana tumama sa harapan mo," he added.

Lagman said there were other ways for Uber and Grab drivers, and even private motorists to navigate while following the law. One example is the use of the traffic application Waze, he said.

"Yung batas nag-aallow naman ng hands-free, hindi mo lang hawak pero meron namang voice, pakinggan mo na lang, 'wag na tingnan ang mapa. Pwede naman tumingin pero huminto ka sa tabi, punta ka sa isang side street,dun ka magbasa ng mapa," he said.

Brian Cu, country head of Grab Philippines, said they have reminded their partners regarding the new law.

He added that Grab’s partners mostly used hands-free devices to contact their passengers.

“Even when the anti-texting while driving law came out, we’ve been reminding our drivers to use phones only when they’re stopped or parked on the side of the road. And also, most of our drivers use hands-free devices when they’re contacting their passengers,” Cu said during an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel’s Top Story.

“We also have a feature on our app called Grab Chat, which has three defined messages that drivers can use and it’s a simple two-clicks on the app to tell passengers where they are.”

Uber has not responded for a comment as of writing.