MANILA — Close to 80 drivers were caught violating the modified Anti-Distracted Driving Law which took effect on Thursday, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said.
MMDA no contact apprehension chief Ronnie Rvera said that as of 3:30 p.m., 72 drivers were caught through the agency’s using closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in strategic places all over Metro Manila in apprehending violators.
The MMDA has more than 300 CCTV cameras installed in major thoroughfares all over Metro Manila.
The first offense has a fine of PHP5,000, the second offense goes up to PHP10,000 while PHP15,000 for the third offense including suspension of the driver’s license for three months and PHP20,000 for the fourth offense including revocation of the driver’s license.
The Metro Manila Council, the MMDA’s policy making body, in 2002 approved Resolution 02-49 citing the need to improve the system of apprehending traffic violators by way of adopting a no contact policy in apprehending traffic violators thru the use of digital cameras.
Under the new law, motorists are not allowed to use their mobile communication devices, electronic entertainment and computing gadgets or devices while vehicles are in motion or temporarily stopped on a traffic light or an intersection.
The law prohibits acts like making or receiving calls, writing, sending or reading text messages, playing games, watching movies, performing calculations, reading e-books, and browsing the internet.
Motorists are allowed to use hands-free applications like Waze, Google Maps, and Spotify or gadgets like dash cams as long as these do not interfere their line of sight. There are heavier penalties that will be imposed for Public Utility Vehicle drivers, drivers of school service vehicles or drivers of a common carrier of flammable or toxic materials. Those caught in violation within a 50-meter radius of a school will be fined PHP30,000 and driver’s license suspension for three months.
The law also covers motorcycles, trucks, cargo haulers carrying hazardous or flammable materials, cyclists, pedicabs, ‘kuligligs’ and animal or human-powered vehicles.
The law, however, clarifies that it is not considered as distracted driving if the driver is not holding the mobile device like when in hands-free function, using the speaker phone, earphones and microphones. Provided, that the placement of the mobile device or hands-free device does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver.
There are also exemptions to the provisions of the law:
-When used for emergency purposes such as an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services, agency or entity; and,
-When operating an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance, fire truck, and other vehicles providing emergency assistance.
The law seeks to avoid or lessen road crashes and injuries. It also promotes road safety and responsible driving among motorists.
Data from the MMDA showed there is an average of 262 crashes daily or 11 crashes per hour in the metropolis.
Last year, the agency recorded 109,322 road crashes in the metropolis but its database does not include statistics on distracted driving. with Monica B. Guevarra (OJT)/PNA