BEFORE you cross the street, be warned of reckless drivers. There’s a greater chance for you to be involved in a road mishap than in an air crash. This is particularly true of the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Recent primetime TV news has recently reported a slew of freak accidents there, including a cab suddenly on fire and a bus hitting the railing and nearly falling off a flyover. The increasing number of accidents there so alarmed the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino that he had EDSA “blessed” by a Catholic priest.

The same goes for Commonwealth Avenue, which has been called the “killer highway,” especially when dark takes over so that speed is all that matters. If vehicular accidents don’t happen in what is probably the widest urban road network in the country, the casualties come from the side of the pedestrians who seem not know how to use the overpasses built all over the 12-kilometer stretch. In other words, the MMDA campaign to scare people by telling them that someone has died in every spot of the road has been quite ineffective.

According to a report by the Highway Patrol Group, 5,021 road accidents happened in the first half of 2012 alone, with Metro Manila topping the ranking. There were 54 major cases in Metro Manila, “major” being mishaps with fatalities, and in those numbers, 593 were reported dead and 2,376 were scarred physically and psychologically. To think about it, these were only for the first half of the year. God forbid that the statistics go double in the second half.

FOI and the right to reply

While some of the blame must be pinned on the Department of Public Works and Highways for the poor design of the roads, the MMDA for poor traffic management, and the police for poor visibility and enforcement of traffic rules, motorists and pedestrians are equally to blame for their unruly behavior.

As for accidents involving public utility vehicles, government and PUV operators and drivers are to blame. How government regulatory agencies could have given the license to drive and operate to such reckless PUV’s and drivers is beyond us. That’s where taxpayer’s money goes: to agencies that are both incompetent and corrupt, and which unleash against the public devil-may-care PUV’s and their drivers.

But of course, private citizens must make sure they don’t contribute to the deadly chaos on the streets: No drink and drive. No text and drive. No driving if one is sleepy. Motorists should follow these instructions before it’s too late.

Pedestrians must also follow the rules. Overpasses, underpasses, and sidewalks are not displays but safety lanes. Pedestrians can only ignore the pink signages of the MMDA at their peril.

Finally, even if others are not following regulations, one must still obey as a sign of respect for the law. As one of my professors told our class, showing that one lives the value makes others rethink theirs. One must always try to set a good example.

We are all driving on the same road and we all have the same rules. We just have to be disciplined and responsible enough to follow rules. Remember, no one is above the law.

Ang nawawalang payong, puno


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