Letter to the President - Weekend

Letter to the President

Jerome NeriAtty. Jerome G. Neri
The Scrutineer

DEAR President Duterte,

The public has seen swift action on important public matters such as the reduction of red tape in government offices, the war against drugs, the distribution of lands in Hacienda Luisita, etc.

There is an urgent need for reform and this is on road safety. The solution that was adopted in your home city, Davao, was the implementation of a speed limit. Limiting the speeds a vehicle may run is only one aspect of road safety.

One of the most important aspects of road safety is the roadworthiness of motor vehicles. A lot of our public transportation, trucks and buses plying the streets are very far from being roadworthy. Any expert can even just look at these vehicles and tell they are not roadworthy. It is about time that there be real change in the land transportation sector as too many lives have been lost.

WRECK. A traffic enforcer checks a public utility jeepney that figured in an accident in Cebu. Calls are being made for stricter policies concerning the roadworthiness of vehicles as well as raising the standards for professional drivers. (SUN.STAR FILE)
WRECK. A traffic enforcer checks a public utility jeepney that figured in an accident in Cebu. Calls are being made for stricter policies concerning the roadworthiness of vehicles as well as raising the standards for professional drivers. (SUN.STAR FILE)

Another aspect that is completely neglected by the public transportation sector is their legal duty to use extraordinary diligence in taking a person or goods from point A to point B. We see a lot of very reckless driving among the common carriers that ply our streets. We have jeepney, truck and bus drivers who cannot even read or write and they managed to get a professional driver’s license.

We need a completely new system in our transportation sector.

I would suggest that a new department that will focus on land transportation be created. Experts in land transportation safety should comprise the members of this agency. The foremost experts on automotive safety and road worthiness in my opinion would be people from the Automobile Association of the Philippines. This association is affiliated with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). The FIA is the governing body of almost all of motorsports worldwide and they too have an advocacy for road safety. They have all the data and knowledge with respect to motor vehicle and road safety. Their campaign is worldwide through affiliated automobile associations. If government can tap these people and create a new department, road safety will immediately improve by leaps and bounds. Another aspect in motoring that should be pursued by this administration is an aggressive driver education program.

The existing license holders must go through a proper refresher course of traffic laws, rules, regulations and etiquette. (Actually it will be the first time for maybe 99.9 percent of all license holders to go through a proper course as driver’s licenses are actually “bought” in the Philippines.) The standards for professional drivers have to be raised.

Now that we have K to 12 in our educational system, there should be room for subjects in motoring and driving. The mere knowledge to operate a motor vehicle is far from enough to qualify a person from driving in our public roads. And to become a professional driver, at least a two year course must be developed and a board exam that must be passed for a person to be able to drive professionally. Other forms of transportation for the air and sea require rigorous training for their operators and have a much greater safety record compared to the land transportation sector. I’m certain by having well-trained taxi, jeepney and bus drivers, there will be a significant decrease in road accidents and deaths.

I really hope these suggestions or something similar will be part of this new administration’s agenda.

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