As I was about to post a family picture on Facebook with our annual Christmas greeting, I saw a private message from someone and I stopped dead in my tracks.
It was a picture of a Toyota Vios that looked like it had been crudely sawed in half. The roof was gone, the seats were exposed, the doors and window frames were ripped cleanly off from the frame and there was broken glass and debris everywhere. It was accompanied by a simple plea: “Sir, please keep pushing the speed limiters bill.” As I scrolled down my inbox, I saw another 3 messages from 3 different people, all with the same line. And it made me stop and think.
Had speed limiters been made mandatory on all trucks and buses almost 2 years ago when I first stormed into the offices of the LTFRB with 13,000 printed signatures from concerned folks, how different would this situation have been?
Sadly, the Caño family will never know. All they do know is that a speeding bus took the lives of two members of their family on Christmas day and put two others in hospital. That much is sure. As sure as it will senselessly claim more and more lives until something is done. And that, my friends, in a nutshell, is why I keep banging on this drum like a UFC fighter ground and pounding his opponent until the ref calls a stop to it. Even if there are some who feel that there are more pressing problems to focus on.
Allow me to explain why.
Firstly, the reason I’m pushing so hard for this is because it is extremely basic and doable. Yes, there are many other laws that we need––or more importantly, laws we need to enforce––but if we want to have any chance of improving road safety, we need to start with the basics and be realistic about policing it. And speed limiters, like brakes, lights, wipers and turn signals shouldn’t be optional because it sets the basic framework for safer roads. Think of it like the ropes and ref in a boxing ring. It isn’t fool proof, but try and imagine a match without one. It sets parameters.
So yes, I’m pretty pedantic about it. Because trying to introduce new safety measures without something as basic as mandatory speed limiters would be like fussing over the pattern of your tie when you haven’t got any pants. Priorities.
Some have said that the problem is not speed but driver education. They argue that if the LTO were stricter, we wouldn’t need to have electronic speed limiters. That may be true, but if we were to use that logic, we may as well argue that if the RH bill was passed it might have spared the LTO the grief of having to deal with them at all. And so on and so forth. It is far too complex an issue for now, so the trick is to keep things realistic and doable.
Another reason I’m not letting up is because since its introduction around 30 years ago, there have been no known downsides to speed limiters. So much so that it is now mandatory in over 80 countries––with many reporting as much as a 50 percent drop in accidents involving trucks and buses. In fact, while I don’t have a study to back me up, on those figures alone, I’d say that pound for pound, speed limiters have been the most effective safety feature next to the seatbelt; yet 2 years on, the LTFRB and DOTC are still studying them in the hope that the Philippines becomes the first country in the world to find something wrong with them.
Simply put, it is a no brainer. So no need for analysis paralysis here. Which is exactly why Senator JV Ejercito filed a bill requiring all trucks and buses to have them installed.
We’re on the home stretch here, folks. It just needs one last push before it gets passed into law. But as the Caño family tragically found out, close as it is, a lot can still happen on the way home. So please help by signing the petition on my website www.jamesdeakin.ph so it finally gets passed into law. Because as long as we continue to do nothing, we can no longer call them accidents.