Bill banning ‘distracted driving’ approved on final reading
A bill that would prohibit and penalize “distracted driving,” or the practice of using phones and engaging in other activities while driving a motor vehicle, was approved by the Senate on third and final reading on Monday.
Senator Sergio “Serge” Osmeña III, acting chairman of the Senate committee on public services, said Senate Bill No. (SBN) 3211 known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, aimed to safeguard the public “from the ruinous and extremely injurious effects of vehicular accidents.”
“While the State recognizes the vital roles of information and communications technology in nation-building, the State also takes cognizance of the inimical consequences of the unrestrained use of electronic mobile devices on road safety as to cause its regulation,” Osmeña said in a statement.
Once enacted into law, the bill known as the Anti-Distracted Driving Act would make “distracted driving” unlawful.
“Distracted driving” was defined under the bill as performing any of the following acts while driving a vehicle in motion or stopped for a red light: “using a mobile communications to write, send, or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls,” along with “using 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.”
Stiff penalties would be imposed on violators, including a fine of P15,000 and suspension of drivers’ license for individuals upon committing their third offense under the proposed act, the bill said.
The proposed measure would not apply, however, to people “using mobile phones for emergencies, including calls to a law enforcement agency, healthcare provider, fire department, or other emergency services, agency or entity,” or to people “using mobile phones while operating vehicles providing emergency assistance,” such as ambulances or fire trucks.
The Senate also passed SBN 2948, which sought to establish a National Vision Screening Program (NVSP) that would help screen the eye vision of kindergarten pupils with visual problems.
Senator Pia Cayetano, sponsor of SBN 2948, said the bill would establish a centralized and organized program for vision screening tests for school children across the country, with the help of the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Education (DepEd), and other institutions.
The NVSP, under the bill, would provide attention to kindergarten pupils found to be visually impaired so that they could be checked and treated by eye care practitioners.
“It is important that vision screening tests be conducted at an early stage, precisely to prevent complications in the future,” Cayetano said.
Two other bills on education and healthcare were also approved by the Senate—House Bill No. (HBN) 4366, establishing the Science and Technology High School in Barangay (village) San Jose, Antipolo City, Rizal, and HBN 5746, which would convert the old Mayor Hilarion Ramiro Sr. Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Misamis Occidental, into the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Medical Center.
The Senate also passed House Bill 6080, which would amend Presidential Degree 269 as amended by Republic Act 10531, or the National Electrification Administration Reform Act of 2013.
The measure seeks to modify the qualifications for, and create a screening committee in the election or appointment of directors and officers of electric cooperatives. RAM/rga
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