A meeting to find lasting, effective solutions to road problems
I am writing to express my strong agreement with some of the arguments made by Inquirer columnist Joel Ruiz Butuyan in his April 17 Opinion piece titled “The season of killer roads.”
Butuyan observed that the Department of Public Works and Highways and other agencies that implement road construction projects often neglect to put up early warning notices informing motorists of road works—an oversight that is not only an inconvenience but also a hazard to road users.
He believes this lack of effective warning devices causes many fatal and near-fatal accidents each year. There is no data to support this argument but, as Butuyan pointed out in his column, this may be because traffic monitors erroneously place the blame for road accidents entirely on motorists, while disregarding the liability and accountability of government.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in its annual Road Crash Statistics Report, attributes most road accidents to undisciplined drivers, drunk driving and the use of mobile phones while driving. The same report said there were 109,322 vehicular accidents in 2016, resulting in 426 deaths and 16,416 injuries. The numbers reflect a 14.33-percent increase from the previous year.
These figures are alarming and should serve as an impetus for improving road safety in the country. Now is not the time to point fingers at perceived culprits behind the increasing number of road safety accidents, whether it be the government for faulty road projects, transport apps for spurring the use of mobile phones while driving, or liquor companies for creating products that cloud drivers’ judgments and faculties. Rather, there is a pressing need to bring all sectors together to develop lasting and effective solutions to identified problems.
This is why the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies (UP CIDS)-Cifal Philippines, together with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, is embarking on a road safety campaign, which will culminate in an
international multistakeholders conference in Manila in November.
The campaign aims to help local authorities and concerned groups develop and implement road safety strategies and plans through discussions of the risk factors, interventions and best practices in road safety. And perhaps more importantly, it also seeks to contribute to existing efforts to boost public awareness of pedestrians’ rights and traffic rules.
EDNA E.A. CO, executive director, UP CIDS, director, Cifal Philippines
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