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Anti-Distracted Driving Act–Advocacy Group Seeks Clarification, Solons Ask DOTr To Suspend It

With the confusion on what exactly is legal and illegal under the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, an advocacy group for passenger safety is reportedly urging the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to clarify the guidelines on the enforcement of the law to avoid confusing motorists.

Anti-Distracted Driving Act

According to the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP), while it supports the implementation of the law since it ensures road safety, it wants the agency to clarify why drivers of public and private vehicles must not have religious items, toys, and car accessories on their vehicles’ dashboard

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

The clarification stems from a radio interview given by Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) board member and spokesperson Aileen Lizada in which she said that drivers of private and public utility vehicles should clear their dashboards of figurines, toys, and other unauthorized car accessories until May 26. On top of this, Lizada also said that eating, drinking, or putting on makeup even if the vehicle is  temporarily stopped is also banned, with the public official citing the DOTR’s 2014 Joint Administrative Order.

“There must be a clear legal basis for these regulations,” Inton reiterated. “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.”

Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito and Vicente Sotto III, meanwhile, are asking the DOTr to temporarily suspend the implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act until the agency has clarified the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulation.

According to Ejercito, vice chair of the Committee on Public Services, mobile phones should be permitted when used for navigational purposes to aid motorists from steering clear of heavy traffic.

“It is counter-intuitive when using Waze or other navigation apps since the use of cellphone is less dangerous if it is within the line of sight,” Ejercito noted. “Every second that the driver’s eyes are on the road counts.” As such, Ejercito is urging the DOTr to reconsider the provisions regarding the placement of smartphone within the driver’s line of sight. “We rarely hear of road accidents that result from the use of navigational apps. Definitely, texting and tinkering with a mobile phone while driving is a no-no. But when it is used as a navigational aid and it is properly placed, it is okay.

Senate Majority Leader Sotto echoed Ejercito’s sentiments, saying that the numerous complaints on placing items on the dashboard that block the driver’s view of the road is reason enough for the law to be reevaluated.

“It should be suspended while it is being reevaluated,” Sotto noted. “There are too many complaints.”

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