The city-wide ban on the use of cellphones while driving and the requirement for tricycle drivers to wear proper clothing while plying their routes are among the more important local legislation to have emerged from the City Council recently.
While there is already an existing national law covering the subject matter, particularly the Anti Distracted Driving Law or RA 10913, the import of the City Council’s separate legislation is its iteration of a motoring rule, one which is habitually broken or ignored by motorists.
The country is notorious for its lax application of road safety, compared specially to more modern countries. Part of the reason for this is because agencies that are supposed to implement these standard rules tend to backpedal from them. How many times have we seen cops and traffic authorities active on the streets flagging down motorists for all sorts of violations as part of some kind of a campaign, only for such drive to wane after an initial hype?
Meanwhile, vehicular accidents recorded in the City have shown a steady rise based on collated reports covered by Palawan News in the more recent years.
The weak characteristics of our enforcement systems have encouraged all sorts of violations such as the proliferation of unregistered public vehicles or the so-called “colorums”, or the practice of overcharging fares for the riding public, or the odd behavior of public utility drivers.
The bigger challenge for these new ordinances passed last week by the City Council is how to ensure the consistency of its implementation. Records would show that the City Traffic Management Office have many times in the past been prodded by city government resolutions with various instructions to improving traffic flow through enforcement, only for the effort to dissipate after a while.
One classic example of the above is an ordinance passed last year by the City government which restricts 4-wheel vehicles on inner lanes of the national highway. Nowadays, no one pays attention to it, as no one seems to be enforcing it anyway.
The two recent measures have yet to be fleshed out with their implementing rules and regulations before they can be rolled out into the streets. But even while this is yet to be done, the city’s traffic enforcers need to be properly oriented already that texting while driving is banned by a national law and we need not wait to enforce it as a city ordinance.
In the same manner, it may not even be necessarily to require an ordinance to compel tricycle drivers to wear presentable clothing while attending to the riding public including tourists, if agencies such as the city tourism office and the private tourism sector can get their acts together and try more direct solutions.