House approves on final reading bill banning cell phone use while driving
MANILA, Philippines—The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a proposed law prohibiting motorists from using mobile phones while driving.
House Bill No. 4571, to be known as the “Anti-Mobile Communication Devices Use while Driving Act of 2011,” called the ban necessary to promote road safety.
Tarlac Rep. Susan Yap, one of the bill’s authors, said that while cellular phones have become an integral part of both business and personal lives, the alarming figures on cell phone-related accidents have transformed this technological gadget into a dangerous device.
“The danger is not only to the lives and limbs of the general driving public but also to the innocent pedestrians,” Yap said, adding that the necessity of using mobile phones could not prevail over the need to prevent road accidents.
Exempted from the ban are drivers of motor vehicles who use cell phones with the aid of hands-free devices and those that perform urgent, emergency and official functions where such limitations will result in greater injury or impair their performance.
Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales, another author of the bill, said operating cellular phones while driving in some instances and situations would pose not only inconvenience to other people but danger as well.
“While some cities have enacted local ordinances prohibiting its use by drivers, there is a need to institute a similar measure on a nationwide scale to protect life, limb and property,” Gonzales said.
Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, another author, said multi-tasking behind the wheel would pose danger not only to the driver and his passengers but to other motorists and pedestrians as well.
“Distracted driving, or using a cell phone or other electronic device while driving, particularly texting and reading messages, effectively removes the visual focus of the driver on the road and diminishes his degree of concentration on the safety of his driving,” Acop said.
Under the measure to be known as the “Anti-Mobile Communication Devices Use while Driving Act of 2011,” the use of mobile communications devices while driving a motor vehicle is regulated and penalties are imposed for violation thereof in order to promote road safety.
Motor vehicles include wheeled agricultural machineries, construction equipment and other forms of conveyances, regardless of whether machine, animal or human-powered as long as operated or driven in public thoroughfares under circumstances where public safety is under consideration.
The bill requires the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO), in coordination with related functions as well as the private sectors, to undertake a nationwide information, education and communication campaign for six months from its effectivity.
It also mandates the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other government agencies to render assistance to the implementing agency to carry out its effective implementation.
Violators will be slapped with a P10,000 fine and their licenses will be revoked.
Other co-authors of the bill are Reps. Augusto Syjuco, Jr. (2nd District, Iloilo), Diosdado Arroyo (2nd District, Camarines Sur), Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (2nd District, Pampanga), Irwin Tieng and Michael Velarde (Party-list, Buhay), Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (4th District, Manila) and Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte).