Gearing-up for a Decade of Action for Road Safety: 2011-2020

Before the 5th AAP Road Safety Conference began, Krus na Ligas High School students made a presentation depicting the young casualties and fatalities of road crashes.

The Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) in cooperation with the University of the Philippines National Center for Transportation Studies (UP-NCTS) and Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) as sponsor, held its 5th Road Safety Conference at the GT-Toyota Asian Center Auditorium on November 18, 2010 with the theme "Gearing-Up for a Decade of Action for Road Safety, 2011-2020."

Attended by representatives from the government, private sector, NGOs and transport groups as well as road safety experts and advocates, the conference supported the initiatives of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety. In his opening remarks, AAP president and concurrently Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP) Chair Augusto Lagman said that the Decade of Action for Road Safety aims to save five million lives by the year 2020 but its effectiveness cannot be measured unless we all act now. For his part, TMP president Michinobu Sugata said, "Let us not just look at accidents and injuries as numbers, but more importantly, lives that we can save because we have made the roads safer for everyone".

The conference was divided into three sessions: the first session tackled road safety legislative initiatives the second focused on eco-driving, and the third covered the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP).

Legislative Initiatives
Pia Cariño-Santiano, chief of staff of Buhay Party List Rep. Irwin Tieng, explained the three bills on road safety and their current status in the House of Representatives: (1) the Anti Texting While Driving Bill, which is currently awaiting deliberation in the Lower House, will penalize motorists who text while driving, with suspension of their driver's license and a fine of up to P20, 000, (2) the Anti Drunk Driving Bill will set a quantitative limit for blood alcohol content at 0.06 percent and (3) the Anti Reckless Driving Bill will criminalize dangerous driving habits with jail sentences from one to 12 months, plus fines of P1,000 to P100,000. This bill has already passed the first reading and is currently pending in the committee for deliberation.

Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin expressed support to the bills and affirmed the Aquino Administration's commitment to road safety. On the other hand, Alberto Suansing of the Safety Organization of the Philippines (SOPI) expressed his belief that the existing Republic Act 4136, a.k.a. the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, is sufficient to instill road discipline and only needs strict implementation to reduce the number of traffic law violators. He asserted that the only thing our country lacks is a specific benchmark for driving under the influence of liquor or narcotics (DUI) that will help law enforcers in apprehending drunk drivers.

Dexter Cardenas of the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety shared this view, saying that the government should work on standardizing the road signs and intelligently review their locations to maximize visibility to motorists. Cardenas lamented that many road signs are defaced with political propaganda or the logos of commercial firms. Standardizing road signs would prevent this so that road signs will serve their purpose, which is to guide motorists and warn them of hazards.

Another issue brought up in the first panel discussion was the proliferation of stick-on advertisements on the backs of public utility buses. Johnny Angeles, AAP vice-president and road safety committee chairman, said that these stickers have no "traffic redeeming value," and therefore should not be tolerated because they block the driver's rear view.

Eco-Safe Driving
The afternoon session resumed with a discussion of Eco- Safe Driving presented by Leandro del Rosario of Meralco's South Distribution Services Fleet-Logistics. Eco-Safe Driving is among the company's initiatives to reduce emissions so as to lower the production of the "greenhouse effect" in the environment. It also promotes road safety and energy efficiency as drivers are encouraged to limit using the gas pedal and thereby enjoy more relaxed motoring. Eco-Safe Driving manages engine revolution so that upon acceleration and during cruising, the engine will only reach around 2,000 rpm maximum/.
With Eco-Safe Driving, Meralco urges the public and private sectors to embark on a greener journey with them for a safer and cleaner road environment.

Aside from promoting green driving, the conference also tackled iRAP, a project that aims to make roads safe through the identification, inspection and improvement of high-risk road infrastructure. iRAP is a joint effort of AAP, DPWH, UP-NCTS and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) whose representatives are members of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee formed by DPWH to coordinate with the iRAP Project Team.

DPWH Assistant Secretary Maria Catalina Cabral reported that so far, the project has accomplished the following goals: identifying black spots, conducting road safety audits, collecting motor vehicle users charge (MVUC) to be used in funding road safety projects, preparing and distributing manuals on road safety, and organizing road safety training seminars for DPWH staff, and some of the local police and local government units.

iRAP will focus on upgrading 30,000 km of national roads to higher safety standards as data show that only 86 percent of our primary roads are paved and the rest are still gravel., iRAP will construct more bridges, continue capacity building among the public and private sectors, continue detailed road audits of the rest of our national roads, identify more black spots, and formulate affordable programs of safety engineering that can decrease road casualties.

The road conference ended with remarks by Johnny Angeles who, on behalf of AAP, congratulated and thanked the organizers and participants, especially the speakers and reactors, for sharing their insights via their presentations.

As a leading road safety advocate, AAP urges everyone to unite and participate in the Decade of Action for Road Safety: 2011-2020 to reduce road casualties by 50 percent by the year 2020. This United Nations resolution initiated by the FIA will be launched worldwide on May 11, 2011, preceded by a pre-launch conference in every country including the Philippines. "We hope to see everyone here again next year for this pre-event conference and keep helping us to make our roads safe", Angeles concluded.

AAP President and concurrent Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP) Chair, Augusto Lagman briefs the attendees on the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

DPWH Assistant Secretary for Planning Maria Catalina E. Cabral explained iRAP Philippines during the afternoon session.

Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation President, Michinobu Sugata welcomed the conference participants in his opening remarks.

AAP 5th Road Safety Conference panelists Dexter Cardenas of the Quezon City Department of Public Order and Safety, Pia Cariño-Santiano, chief of staff of Buhay Party List Rep Irwin Tieng,. DOTC Assistant Secretary Dante Lantin, and Alberto Suansing of SOPI.

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