Lack of discipline among drivers is the biggest reason why road accidents are happening in Palawan, a Land Transportation Office (LTO) official said recently.
Antonia Dela Cruz, head of the LTO Palawan District Office, said most of the drivers do not follow traffic rules despite the speed limit being implemented.
“Kung sa control, kasi may speed limit tayo, pero ang problema ay hindi lang talaga sinusunod ng mga drivers. ‘Yon po ang problema d’yan. Disiplina pa rin talaga sa mga driver, ‘yong mismong nagmamaneho,” she said.
Dela Cruz admitted there is no penalty for overspeeding drivers unless an accident occurs.
Data regarding the number of road accidents in Palawan is still unavailable in the LTO and the Palawan Provincial Police Office (PPPO), she said.
“Wala po kaming na-a-apprehend dahil sa overspeeding. Wala pa kasi tayong ganoon,” she added.
Ex-officio board member Dennis Sabando invited Dela Cruz and other LTO representatives to the regular session of the Provincial Board on Tuesday to explain if there is a speed limit that can be on tourist van drivers who often over speed on national roads.
“Napakabilis ng mga sasakyan dito, minsan umaabot ng 120 kilometers per hour (kph) ang bilis. Sana magawan ng paraan kasi hindi lang isa ang nadidisgrasya kundi sunod-sunod na,” Sabando said.
Sabando said the latest accident he personally witnessed involved a shuttle van with foreign tourists as passengers.
“Sobrang bilis ng mga sasakyan, ang dami ng naaaksidente. Noong nakaraan nakita ko ang van na naaksidente ang mga sakay ay turista. Ang dinadala nila ay buhay, kaya sana naman may speed limit tayo lalo na sa national roads,” Sabando said.
But Police Major Ariel Abanto, chief of the Philippine National Police-Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG), said the official speed limit on national highways is 80 kph.
Aside from lack of discipline, Abanto said other major causes of road accidents are overspeeding and counterflowing.
“Ang ini-implement talaga dito ay 80 kph pero most common cause of road accidents ay reckless driving, overtaking, counterflowing, lalo na ang mga nakainom na driver,” Abanto said.
He said despite their enforcement, they cannot control overspeeding.
Abanto said this is the reason why they always remind drivers against overspeeding, counterflowing, and overtaking.
“Sa part namin, on our daily patrol duties ay ang inspection, pero paglampas niyan sa amin ay hindi na namin kontrolado. Kaya nga lagi namin sinasabi na alagaan niyo hindi lang ang buhay niyo pati ng mga pasahero,” he said.
Board Member Winston Arzaga, chairman of the committee on transportation, said there should be sanctions for undisciplined drivers.
“Siguro ang ganitong problema we really need the leadership of LTO, HPG, and the transport industry to really inculcate discipline among drivers and act for something positive para ma-disiplina ang mga drivers. Sila ang may hawak ng manibela and kung kulang sa disiplina ay wala talaga but we can have sanctions for the undisciplined drivers,” he said.
Arzaga also said van operators should be responsible in reminding their drivers to observe the 80 kph speed limit.
“The more we talk with the operators, as well as the law enforcement… I think we can come up with disciplinary measures that the drivers should follow. Napakalaking problema n’yan, kapag mnasa kalsada na ‘yan, wala na,” Arzaga said.
Board Member David Francis Ponce de Leon, on the other hand, reminded passengers to report erring drivers.
“We have the power na sabihan ang driver na masyado ng mabilis ang pagpapatakbo nila, ‘wag mo na hintayin ang LTO of HPG kasi kayo na mismo ang nakasakay. The public has the power to do that… they should do that,” he said.