DOTr urged to set clear guidelines on Anti-Distracted Driving Act

MANILA — An advocacy group for passenger safety is urging the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to set clear guidelines on the enforcement of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (ADDA) to avoid confusion among motorists.

The Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP) said it supports the implementation of the law as it would ensure road safety through prohibiting the use of mobile devices and electronic gadgets by motorists while driving their vehicles.

However, the group wants a clarification on why drivers of both public and private vehicles must clear their dashboards of rosaries, figurines, toys and other unauthorized car accessories.

“It is very clear that the coverage on the law only applies to mobile phones and electronic gadgets. We are wondering why rosaries hanging under rear view mirrors or any accessories on dashboards are also prohibited. Does it have any legal basis?” LCSP President Atty. Ariel Inton said in a statement.

“Though we may consider them as distractions, these are not gadgets such as cellphones or headphones and are not covered under the law,” he added.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has said drivers of private and public utility vehicles should clear their dashboards of figurines, toys, and other unauthorized car accessories until May 26.

LTFRB board member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada said in a radio interview that rosaries hanging under rearview mirrors, small images of saints, and stuffed toys on the dashboard that can affect the driver’s line of sight are prohibited.

Motorists are also banned from eating, drinking, or putting on makeup while on the road, even while temporarily stopped.

Lizada said these prohibitions are under the Department of Transportation’s 2014 Joint Administrative Order (JAO). Penalties for violators include a fine of PHP 5,000 and the vehicle could be impounded.

The LCSP proposed that the DOTr should conduct a dry run before fully implementing the law and review the prohibitions under the said act.

“There must be a clear legal basis for these regulations. We are worried that traffic enforcers on the ground are not given specific guidelines on the implementation and this might cause misunderstanding. We must not overstretch the coverage of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act,” Inton reiterated.

It also urged Congress to make the necessary amendments that will clarify any ambiguities that may arise on the enforcement of the ADDA.

The Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) will hold a special board meeting on Tuesday to discuss the regulations in the Anti-Distracted Driving Law. ABP/