Better warning system along EDSA needed amid barrier-linked crashes, motorists say

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2020 11:44 PM

MANILA--Road safety proponents are calling for additional safety devices, such as warning markers, to help minimize crashes and injuries in the bus lane of EDSA. 
 
This comes nearly a month since motorists began adjusting to a new scheme on the highway that moved the bus lanes to the left and added concrete barriers to enforce the change. 

The past 20 days saw a near-daily frequency of vehicles crashing into and even mowing down the barriers, most of them at night, data from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority showed. 

For the Philippine Advocates for Road Safety (PARS), these could be minimized by adequate warning signage installed even before motorists reach the start point of the barriers. 

"Kailangan masanay natin o ma-influence natin yung behavior ng mga motorista na huwag silang papasok doon sa left lane," said Jun Estallo, PARS National Capital Region chapter president. 

(We need to familiarize or influence the behavior of motorists to avoid entering the left lane.) 

From June 1 -- when the new bus lane scheme began at the onset of Metro Manila's general community quarantine -- until June 18, the MMDA listed 16 such crashes in various parts of EDSA. 

Ten of these occurred between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. 
 
Some of the motorists involved in the crashes claimed not to see the barriers as they approached the divide, despite the segments being fitted with light reflectors. 

All of the incidents were categorized as "self-accidents", in which a vehicle crashed on its own and did not hit other vehicles. 

Estallo recommended placing bright blinkers as signages, meters before reaching the first barrier, similar to devices installed before construction or repair works in roads. 
 
"OK yung paglagay ng reflectorized na barrier, pero at a certain distance, once you approach the concrete barrier, kailangan may early warning ka na sana. Dahil hindi lahat ng driver pamilyar doon sa concrete barrier na nilalagay, o maaari kung first timer siyang dumaan sa EDSA, o yung iba nagmamadali," he said. 

(Putting reflectorized barriers is OK, but at a certain distance once you approach the concrete barrier you need to place an early warning. That's because not all drivers are familiar with the placement of the barriers, and they may be passing EDSA for the first time or are in a hurry.) 

He added that traffic enforcers should also monitor the transition points from open road to the beginning of the barrier segments. 

MMDA general manager Jojo Garcia said the agency plans to place additional hazard markers along the bus lanes following the spate of crashes. 
 
These would be placed on top of the barriers and would be visible at night. 

CONCRETE RISKS 

Other road safety experts have noted the risks of installing concrete barriers. 

On Friday, a motorcycle rider died after hitting a concrete barrier from inside the bus lane at EDSA southbound in Mandaluyong. 

The MMDA prohibits other vehicles, except those carrying frontliners, from entering the dedicated lane. 

However, the agency said it is sticking with concrete instead of plastic barriers and cones, especially since this is part of the government's long-term plan to permanently move the bus lanes to the so-called inner lanes. 
 
MMDA spokesperson Celine Pialago noted that most of the concrete barrier crashes were also influenced by other factors, such as the motorists' condition and the weather. 
 
"Kadalasan po dito ay driver's error. Mostly lahat po sila, overspeeding," she said. 

(Often this is due to driver's error. Most of them were found overspeeding) 

Pialago cited the crash of a van that overturned after hitting barriers at EDSA northbound past the Guadalupe bridge last Thursday and left 3 injured. 

The driver acknowledged drinking before the trip after bottles of beer were found inside the van. 

Pialago reminded motorists to also observe the highway's speed limit and avoid switching lanes. 

Meanwhile, Estallo also urged authorities to anticipate pedestrian safety in placing the safety markers, especially with the planned change in the position of bus stops.