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MANILA, Philippines – With its mountainous topography, Cagayan Valley is no stranger to road crashes.
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the region had 682 road crash-related deaths in 2014. When compared with its population, Cagayan Valley has the highest crash density rate in the region.
In 2016 alone, the Cagayan Provincial Police Office recorded a total of 1,471 road crashes. (READ: Deadly highways: What makes Cagayan Valley roads crash-prone?)
During Rappler’s #SaferRoadsPH forum held on Wednesday, June 7, in Tuguegarao City, Superintendent Oliver Tanseco of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Highway Patrol Group said road crashes are preventable as long as motorists take proper action.
The forum featured several Cagayan officials as discussion panelists, all of whom proposed several solutions to avoid road crashes and save lives. (READ: What factors affect road safety in Cagayan Valley’s crash-prone roads?)
All of them emphasized that road safety begins with respect and courtesy toward fellow motorists.
On the part of local government units (LGUs), the panelists said they should address gaps in road policies and implementation.
As Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Region II Director Nasrudin Talipasan explained, road safety boils down to a confluence of factors. “It’s about the law and obedience to the law. That will make it happen,” he said.
Education and information dissemination
Tuguegarao City Councilor Claire Callangan identified information dissemination as the key to the effective enforcement of national policies such as the seatbelt law and the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.
Aside from the narrow roads and the dense population of Cagayan which may contribute to the number of road crash incidents, Callangan pointed to the “pasaway” (hardheaded) mentality as one of the main cause of crashes.
Callangan believes tackling road safety in the barangay level will encourage locals to be more obedient when it comes to following traffic rules.
Creation of a road safety task force
Meanwhile, Tuguegarao City Councilor Raymund Guzman suggested the creation of a task force solely focused on enforcing road safety policies.
The proposed task force will be composed of officials from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), LTFRB, and other agencies involved in road safety.
With this task force, Guzman said enforcement of road safety policies will be much more efficient and streamlined.
Institutionalization of driver’s academy
Apart from the training sessions and seminars offered by the LTO, Talipasan emphasized the need to institutionalize educational programs for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.
Information campaigns must be a continuous initiative of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) together with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), LTFRB, and LGUs.
Improving public transportation
According to Tanseco, the ultimate solution to road safety is to improve public transportation in the Philippines, as 80% of trips are via public transport. More efficient systems of public transport eliminate vulnerabilities for pedestrians.
Given all of these, Talipasan emphasized that road safety management, information awareness, and policy making and enforcement are the 3 keys to safer roads – not only in Cagayan but in the whole country. – Gari Acolola / Rappler.com
Gari Acolola is a Rappler intern.