Recto: Vehicular accidents a ‘national epidemic’

Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto on Tuesday branded the vehicular accidents in the country as a "national epidemic" that should be immediately treated, urging the government to implement laws to curb increasing number of incidents.

In a statement, Recto said vehicular accidents, including those involving vehicles, are collectively the fifth leading cause of death in the country today, killing more people than diseases like Tuberculosis or diabetes.

[caption id="attachment_93862" align="aligncenter" width="720"] A photo of the Florida bus that fell off a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province.[/caption]

He said that in Metro Manila alone, at least one vehicular accident happens every seven minutes, quoting data from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority in 2011.

"That year, 396 died in traffic accidents in the National Capital Region, or the equivalent of two Airbuses full of passengers crashing with all fatalities dead," he said, noting that almost half of victims were pedestrian hit by vehicles.

To address this problem, Recto said the executing agencies should implement laws and measures which were created to reduce accidents. It includes the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan for 2011-2020, which Recto said is "yet to be fully translated from PowerPoint presentation to actual implementation."

Recto said several provisions of the plan could be used by the government, including the creation of a national road crash database system, adoption of road design standards which will incorporate sidewalks and mandatory bicycle and motor lanes, and the identification of accident-prone areas and to adopt countermeasures for these so-called "black spots."

Moreover, he said the strict implementation of the Anti-Drunk Driving Law will help reduce the accident, considering that one of eight vehicular accidents nationwide involved drunk drivers or passengers.

For project implementation, Recto said the government could tap the P12 billion annual collections from Road Users Tax, which sets aside 7.5 percent of it for road safety programs.

"There are many things to be done to arrest this national epidemic of road deaths," he said. “To these, let me add, a massive street lighting program specifically on underpasses and tunnels. The designation of school zones as “Safe Kids Area” with no cost spared in the installation of warning signs, traffic lights and pedestrian lanes around the campuses where 23 million of our children go daily,” he added.

The proposal came after a passenger bus fell into a ravine in Bontoc, Mountain Province last week, killing at least 14 people and injuring many others. (Ron B. Lopez)

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