EDITORIAL: Anti-distracted driving

Beginning tomorrow, it will be unlawful for anyone to use a mobile phone, tablet or any electronic device while driving.

Republic Act 10913, better known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, will be in full effect Thursday, May 18, 2017, 15 days after its Implementing Rules and Regulations were published and exactly a year after it was passed by the Senate.

For everyone’s information, the law defines distracted driving as “using a mobile communications device to write, send, or read text-based communication or to make or receive calls, and other similar acts,” as well as to use “an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations, and other similar acts.”

There are exceptions though. These are limited to using said devices to make emergency calls, and motorists operating emergency vehicles (ambulances, fire trucks, etc.), provided the act is done “in the course and scope of his or her duties.”

Given that there are advances in technology where one can still use their gadgets through hands-free settings, said devices may be used provided that it’s via a hands-free function (speakerphone, earphones and mic, etc.), and provided it isn’t placed within your line of sight.

The fines and penalties for motorists caught violating the Anti-Distracted Driving Act are:

*First offense – P5,000 fine
*Second offense – P10,000 fine
*Third offense – P15,000 fine and three-month suspension of driver’s license
*Fourth offense – P20,000 fine and revocation of driver’s license

The spirit of the law is to clearly promote safety on the road where most accidents occur because of distracted driving.

Enforcement of the law, however, could find some “distraction” in the fact that there is no regulation in this jurisdiction on the use of car tints. Most people use super dark shades on their car windows and windshields that it is not possible for someone outside to see what is inside the car or what the driver is doing inside the car. Which means the law could be helpless for as long as there is no law regulating the use of car tints.

In other countries, private cars are barred if not regulated from using car tints on windshields and windows. This allows for authorities to see through the window or windshield the driver and passengers of the car, or if the driver is using devices while driving.

Now that this law is enforced, what should necessarily come next is the anti-car tint law.