Cabaero: Rise in road mishaps

Nini Cabaero

PHOTOS and videos of road accidents around Cebu used to appear on social media accounts but not in the last three months.

When Cebu implemented strict quarantine orders where people were told to stay at home, the road accidents stopped. Few or no vehicles on the road meant few or no accidents. The stay-at-home orders were able to save people from the novel coronavirus infection and from road accidents.

During the almost three months of strict quarantine, only one or two accidents were reported in media and these involved vehicles going way past the speed limit because drivers thought they have the roads to themselves.

Suddenly, over the weekend, there were at least four accidents reported involving cars and at least one motorcycle and one bicycle in separate incidents. That’s definitely more than what we saw in the periods from late March to early June.

One might wish for an enhanced quarantine to be re-imposed so lives will continue to be protected but that is not the best way to promote safety on the streets. Road rules would have to be put in the context of a new normal similar to the way offices, restaurants and service centers are being adjusted and remodeled to fit into what will be the standard during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Speed limits may have to be adjusted to consider that bicycles now share the roads with four-wheeled vehicles. Lanes might be re-lined once a separate space is dedicated to bikes. Transportation agencies of the government may have to conduct campaigns to remind drivers and commuters to be aware of the safety of others in the same way they became conscious about safety measures against the novel coronavirus.

Think of it as another lesson that the Covid-19 is forcing on us. The capacity to care for yourself and for others so they will not be harmed by the coronavirus, and now the facility to save self and others from a road crash.

Motorcycle accidents and so on might have been normal before cities went on lockdown. They do not have to be normal when cities open.

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I add my voice to the call of the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) to amend the cyber-libel law to clarify the intent of Congress on the prescription of libel. “It’s one year, not 12 years,” the statement said.

This was after a Manila trial court convicted journalist Maria Ressa and former writer and researcher Reynaldo Santos of the digital news organization Rappler for cyber-libel.

The CCPC said Ressa and Santos were convicted of libel on the basis of a news story published in 2012 and “republished” in 2014. The complaint was filed in 2017, three years after the “republication.” In both instances, the crime had long prescribed, based on the rule in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, which says, “The crime of libel or other similar offenses shall prescribe in one year.”