Editorial: Ban motorcycles from highways?

Her death came in a flash. Public school teacher Charisma Servado could have received flowers and love from her students had she lived for another day.

The grim reaper came to pluck her from the living world on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022, and it came in the form of a motorcycle driven by an unlicensed driver—Luigie Go Lazarte, a 25-year-old backhoe operator from San Fernando. The accident, or to be specific, a tragedy caused by negligence, happened on the eve of National Teachers’ Day, which is observed every Oct. 5.

Servado was riding on the motorcycle driven by her husband, who survived the road accident along the highway in Barangay Tungkil, Minglanilla. Lazarte had just gotten off work when he drove the motorcycle owned by his father fast until he hit the Servado couple’s motorcycle. The teacher had worn her helmet at the time, but it did not save her from her untimely death.

Several road accidents involving motorcycles have occurred not just in Cebu but in other parts of the country as well. The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) reported that as of July 5, 2022, its emergency medical services had assisted 559 motorcycle riders who were involved in accidents across the country. The PRC report did not state any fatalities.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report on road traffic injuries released on June 20, 2022 stated that more than half of the approximately 1.3 million people who die each year in road traffic crashes are vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

The WHO report and the Minglanilla road accident beg this question: Is it high time to ban motorcycles from plying national highways and other major thoroughfares?

If the government banned motorcycles from national highways, it would surely be met with protests because there is no existing law that bans them. There are laws that regulate motorcycle use and put in place safety measures such as mandatory helmet use, a limit on riders and prohibiting motorcycle-for-hire public transport. Despite the existence of these laws, their enforcement is lacking and violators are aplenty.

Metro Cebu still has no comprehensive public transportation system; if it had one, the number of motorcycles using the highways would be few.

There will be more road accidents in the future as long as there are drivers who are reckless like those who drive even if they have consumed alcohol and traffic laws are not strictly implemented. Then there still will be more injuries and deaths.