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Texting while driving banned

Vehicle drivers using mobile devices or positioning gadgets that distract their line of sight while driving will be apprehended starting today, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

The Anti-Distracted Driving Act takes effect today with traffic enforcers and closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) on the lookout for violators.

Victor Nuñez, MMDA legal and legislative affairs staff, said traffic enforcers have been deputized by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to apprehend and issue traffic violation tickets to violators.

“We’ve already met with different sectoral supervisors of traffic enforcers to explain the new law and avoid confusion among the enforcers,” said Nuñez.

He said spotted violators will be flagged down by traffic enforcers and will be issued citation tickets. However, the driver’s license will not be confiscated.

Violators will be fined P5,000 for the first offense. P10,000 for the second offense, P15,000 for the third offense plus suspension of license and P20,000 for the third offence plus suspension of driver’s license. Final offense would be revocation of driver’s license and a fine of P20,000.

Nuñez admitted it would be difficult for traffic enforcers to check heavily tinted vehicles. Thus, they are considering regulating the window tint of private cars.

He said officials of the MMDA, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and LTO will meet with tint manufacturers to learn about the optimum tint grade for cars.

“We will sit down with tint manufacturers to understand the technicalities and specifications of vehicle tints and better enforce the law,” said Nuñez.

Moreover, high definition cameras of the MMDA’s Metrobase which can monitor lights from devices inside heavily tinted vehicles will also be utilized in enforcing the Republic Act 10913.

Under the no contact apprehension policy, the MMDA monitors traffic violations, track down errant motorists through CCTVs and have them penalized.

“Aside from our ground enforcers, we will be using our cameras in monitoring violators,” said Nuñez.

The law under Republic Act 10913 describes “distracted driving” as the performance by motorists of any acts on the usage of their mobile communication devices, electronic entertainment and computing gadgets or devices while vehicles are in motion or temporarily stopped on a traffic light or an intersection.

Prohibited acts under the law include making or receiving calls, writing, sending or reading text-based communications, playing games, watching movies, performing calculations, reading e-books, composing messages, and surfing or browsing the internet.

Dash cameras and mobile devices displaying maps and Waze should be positioned at an area that does not obstruct the line of the driver.

Motorists can use the aid of a hands-free function and applications as long as they do not also interfere with the driver’s line of sight.

No communication or electronic gadget should be affixed on the car’s dashboard and steering wheel. Drivers are only allowed to wear earphones when making or receiving a call.

Mark Richmmund De Leon, Department of Transportation (DoTr) assistant secretary for land transportation, said the law is a preventive measure to avoid or lessen accidents and injuries from happening while promoting road safety and responsible driving among our motorists. (ANNA LIZA VILLAS-ALAVAREN)