Wazers and chronic texting-while-in-traffic drivers, beware!
The Anti-Distracted Driving Act of 2016 or RA 10913 has lapsed into law last July 21, after former President Benigno Aquino failed to sign the measure. The law aims to avoid accidents on the road by prohibiting drivers from using mobile devices like phones, tablets, laptops, and other gadgets while the vehicle is in motion or while stopped at a red light.
If you drive frequently around the metro, here are some important points you have to remember about this new law:
Using your phone for whatever reason (except if it’s an emergency) while the vehicle is moving is prohibited, even on a red light.
The law defined “distracted driving” as “using 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.”
As such, you are completely not allowed to use your phone while the vehicle is moving, even if you’re using it to know directions.
Anyway, Waze ensures that it can still be used without the need to touch the device as long as you’ve set your destination before driving. Worse comes to worst, you can always pull over to use your phone or call a friend who’s more spatially intelligent.
Time to use those hands-free kits: You are free to take calls as long as your hands are on the wheel
The law does not prohibit the use of headsets and hands-free kits so you can still use your phone’s speaker when taking a call. However, the line of sight of the driver must not be obstructed by the device. It is a good thing to invest in hands-free accessories like Bluetooth and headsets, but here’s a better tip: Just answer or call later, when you’re no longer driving.
Government vehicles are not exempted to this law
This new law doesn’t distinguish if it’s private vehicle, government, or even diplomatic. I remember calling out an Uber driver once for endlessly checking on Waze even while driving. I told him about this law, and he said, “ay sir, exempted naman kami dyan eh.” Turns out, nope.
Vehicles exempted are only those being used for law enforcement response, healthcare providers (ambulances) and fire department, as well as other emergency services.
Just to let you know, the driver got a 3-star rating from me.
The fines are not forgiving
If you get caught, you will be fined P5,000 for the first offense. If you do it again, it’s P10,000. If you do it again the third time, it’s P15,000 and the suspension of your license for three months. If you still do it again on the fourth time, you’ll pay P20,000 and your license will be revoked. If you’re that stubborn, then you deserve it, man.
THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP: MMDA will not bother catching you, but they’ll see you on your next vehicle registration renewal.
While this sounds like good news to delinquent drivers, it really isn’t.
MMDA will employ the No-Contact Apprehension policy in apprehending violators. That means the MMDA will use its various cameras around the metro to see if you’re watching that cute cat video while driving. These cameras are very good in catching violators, and you will not be immediately aware of your violation until they inform you. The No-Contact Apprehension policy was enforced since earlier this year by the agency to ensure transparency and eliminate corruption and bribery, so they can see who’s giving and taking the lagay. Gotta catch ‘em all! To check if your vehicle has a recorded violation, you can visit the MMDA website MayHuliBa.com and key-in your plate number or conduction sticker.
Pull over if you need to use your phone
Duh. But really, I have to underscore this.
If ever something comes up and you need to answer a call, or respond to a text, or you really can’t resist the urge to watch that cat video, pull over your vehicle before using your phone.
This avoids any violation on your part and ensures the safety of other vehicles and pedestrians around you. This is the sanest thing to do.
Let’s promote safety on the road and have a hassle-free driving!
(And, if you’re reading this on your car, you better put down your device now. 🙂 )
(Hector MJC Brizuela)