Senator seeks to suspend anti-distracted driving implementation

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2017 02:53 PM | Updated as of May 22 2017 05:44 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Senator JV Ejercito has called for a temporary suspension of the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, following mixed reactions from motorists.

"I am calling on the Department of Transportation and the Land Transportation Office to temporarily suspend the enforcement of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act until motorists’ confusions are ironed out regarding the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations," he said in statement Monday.

The Anti-Distracted Driving Act drew mostly negative reactions from motorists especially after authorities banned rosaries and religious icons on dashboards of vehicles.

Implementing agencies also had conflicting interpretations of the law. 

Republic Act 10913, implemented Thursday, barred motorists from using their gadgets while driving. Vehicle dashboards and windshields must also be free from all kinds of gadgets, to avoid distracting the driver's "line of sight."

Violators of the new law are required to pay a P5,000 fine for the first offense.

Senators Nancy Binay and Richard Gordon also raised concerns over the implementation of the law and called for a review of the law's implementing rules and regulations.

"Parang nalusaw yung intent of the law, which was really prohibit yung text and call while driving," Binay said, noting that the interpretation of the law seems to change day-by-day.

"Ang nangyayari everyday, ata pabago-bago yung interpretations sa IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations). Parang sumobra, hindi naman ako naniniwala na pati ba naman yun rosary tsaka air freshener dapat ipagbawal," she added.

Gordon said the prohibited items have gone too far, and defended allowing rosaries in vehicles.

"'Yung mga rosary kasama sa kultura natin yan. Ako I carry a rosary I'm not distracted by it. Anything that will create a dangerous situation of people in the highway should be policed, pero sobra na yun, rosaryo hindi naman nakaka-distract," he said.

Ejercito said the law became "complicated" after enforcers misunderstood the purpose of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. 

"It seems that DOTr [Department of Transportation] officials misunderstood the essence of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. They have made matters complicated when it is basically just about banning the use of cellphones while driving," he said, noting that cellphones used for navigational purposes should be permitted to be placed within the line of sight of drivers.

Ejercito argued that cellphones used for navigational purposes aid motorists in avoiding areas with heavy traffic.

"Hence, it is just counter-intuitive to place it somewhere hidden. Mas delikado pa yumuko! Every second that the driver’s eyes are on the road counts," he said.

"We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly placed, it should be okay," he added.

Ejercito also called on the DOTr to think about amending this provision before implementing the law.

"I hope that with all the confusion that this law has caused, the DOTr and LTO would heed this call," he said.- with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

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Editor's note: We erroneously reported that Senator JV Ejercito was one of the law's authors. Our apologies.