Deadly highway

Last week, three people died in yet another vehicular accident on the national highway in Barangay Salvacion. The fatalities were passengers of a private pick up truck which reportedly collided head-on with a passenger bus coming from the north and heading into the city.

A controversy has cropped up around this incident because the official police report placed the blame on the driver of the private vehicle even while a dash cam image from the ill-fated pickup vehicle that spread on social media showed the bus occupying the opposite lane right before the collision.

This wasn’t the only vehicular accident recorded along the national highway. Many of these accidents have involved public utility vehicles.

No other incident except this most recent one in Salvacion had been recorded on a dash cam. The records suggest there is something amiss with public utility drivers. Either that or there is something wrong with the road, perhaps a lack of road signs or its engineering and maintenance.  Bottomline is, nobody seems to know or is doing anything to address this issue.

The Salvacion accident has joined the statistics showing how dangerous Palawan’s main road grid is. Some observers are beginning to call it the death highway and for a reason. Some others, on social media, claim the highway’s deadly reputation has started to impact on the number of tourists traveling to El Nido from the capital.

It would seem that requiring all vehicles, especially the public utility drivers that collectively have earned a notoriety for reckless driving, to have on board dash cams is one way to deal with the situation. There is currently a bill in Congress, the Dashboard Camera Act of 2017, that seeks to legislate this nationally but it is perhaps a measure that can be readily undertaken on the provincial level.

What is urgently needed at the moment are policy and decision makers to do something.

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