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Why driving while texting can kill you

Why driving while texting can kill you

By Melvin Magadia, for Automart.PH

METRO MANILA, June 13, 2022 – Filipinos are known for being heavy users of their smartphones.

Most of them use their mobile devices to make video calls and send text messages. According to Statista, a statistics portal for market and consumer data, 82.3 million Filipinos owned mobile phones in 2021. This figure is expected to reach 90 million by 2025.  

However, the heavy use of mobile devices has an impact on our safety on the road.

According to the Road Crash Statistics in Metro Manila 2020 of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, there were 31,811 incidents that year, with human error accounting for 854 damage to property and 278 non-fatal injuries. Distracted driving falls under human error.  

And according to the U.S. National Safety Council, driver error causes 94 percent of car crashes and one of the most prevalent reasons is driver distraction. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said in its 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety that drivers are 23 times more likely to crash when they text while driving.

As a vehicle owner, you must remember that texting and driving don’t mix.

Why is distracted driving dangerous?

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any diversion from driving to focus on other activities.

In 2019, the NHTSA reported that 3,142 people were killed and an additional 424,000 were injured in the United States because of motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.

Sending a text message, talking on a cellphone, using a navigation system and eating are examples of distractions. These can endanger the lives of yourself, your passengers and others on the road.

When using a mobile phone while driving, you take your eyes off the road and your hands off the steering wheel. This can impair driving performance in various ways, such as longer reaction times, the inability to stay in the proper lane and shorter following distances.

When you are driving, sending or reading a text removes your eyes off the road for five seconds. If you are driving at around 90 km/h, you can cover the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.

In the Philippines, Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act prohibits the use of electronic communication devices while driving. Let’s discuss this law in detail.

What is the Anti Distracted Driving Act?

Signed into law on July 21, 2016, Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act prohibits using mobile communication devices and electronic gadgets while behind the wheel.

The law applies to vehicles that are in motion or temporarily stopped at a traffic light or an intersection. R.A. 10913 covers all types of public and private vehicles, along with:

  • Wheeled agricultural pieces of machinery
  • Construction equipment
  • Other forms of conveyances, as long as they are operated or driven in public thoroughfares, highways, or streets, such as bicycles, pedicabs, trolleys, human and horse-drawn carriages

The law also prohibits drivers stuck in traffic, as long they are still behind the wheel, from using their cellphones and/or gadgets to:

  • Make or receive calls
  • Write, send or read text-based communications
  • Play games
  • Watch movies
  • Perform calculations
  • Read e-books
  • Compose messages

What is exempted?  

The Anti-Distracted Driving Act allows the use of hands-free functions or accessories to operate a device. However, these should not interfere with the driver's line of sight.

These cover voice commands, speaker phones, earphones, and microphones. R.A. 10913 also allows the use of devices for emergencies, including calls to a law enforcement agency, healthcare provider, fire department or other emergency services.

The law also allows the use of mobile devices by operators of emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire trucks, and other vehicles performing official duties.  

What are the penalties for violators?

Violators of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act shall be subjected to the following penalties:

  • P5,000 fine for the first offense
  • P10,000 fine for the second offense
  • P15,000 fine for the third offense with a three-month suspension of the driver’s license
  • P20,000 fine for the fourth and succeeding offense, including revocation of the driver’s license

Texting while driving can have serious repercussions. Road safety should always be your top priority.