MMDA apprehends 129 violators of anti-distracted driving law

MANILA-- Around 129 drivers were caught by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) personnel in the first two days of the implementation of modified Anti-Distracted Driving Law (ADDA).

Victor Nunez, MMDA legal officer, said that 114 drivers were caught on Thursday by its no contact apprehension policy using high definition CCTVs while 15 drivers caught on Friday.

Majority of the violators are motorcycle drivers.

The MMDA has more than 300 CCTV cameras installed in major thoroughfares all over Metro Manila.

Mas effective kasi kung CCTV kasi kitang-kita yung violator na gumagamit ng cellphone na i-screen grab namin. So much less yung tendency na mag-argue o magkaroon ng confrontation against the apprehending enforcer, he told reporters in phone interview.

NuAez said they have attributed the decrease in the number of apprehension on second day following the massive public information campaign on the new law.

Nunez said the first offense has a fine of PHP5,000; second offense is PHP10,000; while third offense is PHP15,000 including suspension of the driver's license for three months; and PHP20,000 for the fourth offense including revocation of the driver's license.

Under the ADDA, 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 also 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, however, 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.

Heavier penalties will be imposed for Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) 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, clarified 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 accidents in the metropolis but its database does not include statistics on distracted driving.

Source: Philippines News Agency