Thursday, February 13, 2014

No place for complacency in bus accidents

It took a celebrity and a horrible accident to shake us out of our complacency about bus accidents.

Last week’s tragedy, which claimed the lives of 14 people, including comedian Arvin “Tado” Jimenez and Bicolano-born creative director Giovanni “Bam” Morillo, gained enough attention to prompt the government to suspend G.V. Florida Transport Inc. as well as Mountain Province Cable Tours.

Prior to that, a bus falling off the Metro Manila Skyway which killed 22 and injured 20 more, also made national news.

In Bicol, however, where the main mode of transportation to and from the province remains the bus, these accidents have become so commonplace that many are hardly even reported anymore, let alone reach national primetime news.

We have become so desensitized to bus accidents that it seems as if we have accepted it as a fact of life, a natural hazard of our existence that we confront, just like typhoons and earthquakes.

Yet bus accidents aren’t natural disasters. They are occurrences that can be minimized, if not completely prevented, by strictly enforcing proper safety precautions and traffic  regulations.
Many of these accidents can be blamed on poor road design or the lack of road signs; others on wayward drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Still some are caused by ill-maintained vehicles. On top of these, colorum vehicles proliferate at the behest of government officials.
Meanwhile, vehicular accidents continue to be among the top causes of death in our country, surpassing even many diseases. In Bicol, such accidents are also on the rise. In 2013 alone, there were 8,187 of these accidents which were recorded by the PNP.

Alarming as these facts are, it seems that many of us continue to be unconvinced of the serious threat of bus accidents. Otherwise we would have already demanded for a change in the status quo.

The problem is that demanding for change means asking for the same from a large number of people.

The bus accident issue is in the hands of many people, including the LTFRB which regulates the vehicles , the PNP which enforces traffic rules, the lawmakers who legislate these rules, and, lest we forget, ourselves, who drive or commute on a daily basis. In other words, it is incumbent upon each one of us to take precaution, insist on better laws, and make sure to follow the rules ourselves.

Now that the public consciousness on bus crashes has been roused yet again, we must take action to avert future accidents. Our old ways of pronouncing a bus crash incident resolved when charges of reckless imprudence have been filed will no longer do. We must take a step back, assess the issue from all angles, and instead of pointing fingers, start looking for areas on which we can improve. There is no better time than now.

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