BY PET MELLIZA/ THE BEEKEEPER
A straight yellow line in the middle of the road, especially on blind curves, cautions motorists from overtaking or counter-flowing on the other lane because of dangers that may lurk ahead, there may be approaching vehicles or pedestrians behind the curve unseen to the driver.
Two straight yellow lines that we find on arching bridges mean absolutely no overtaking.
The yellow line, however, is wantonly disregarded by drivers particularly those plying the southern Iloilo route. Among the most notorious on that regard are drivers of Igbaras – Iloilo jeepneys. Quiz them on the meaning of yellow lines, whether continuous or broken, and you would fined many of them are ignorant of their meaning.
Recklessly speeding and overtaking on blind curves and on bridges is a mere routine for Igbaras jeepney drivers who fit perfectly in the term “ignoramuses” and accidents-waiting-to-happen.
And what do the regulatory and transportation enforcers do to address that?
The lead agencies the Land Transportation Office (LTO) which issues drivers’ licenses and enforces traffic laws and road safety, the Land Transportation and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB) which issues franchises and regulates public utility vehicles – these two government bodies do nothing to keep the roads safe from ignoramuses who forget their duty to deliver commuters and goods safety to their destinations.
The PNP’s traffic management group and those enlisted by local governments to enforce traffic rules within the LGU’s territory, also do nothing to keep the road safe from maniacs who treat their trips as race tracks and disregard the safety of both commuters and pedestrians.
The national roads from Villa, Iloilo City to the southern towns have become daily venues of drag races. LTO enforcers are lulling themselves into blissful ignorance whenever they set out checkpoints on the road. They apprehend drivers who are not on proper attire, or in shorts and slippers; they issue tickets on drivers whose vehicles have defective lights. They punish taxi drivers for contracting trips with passengers without using taxi meters. LTO operatives are more concerned in imposing fines but do nothing to identify and stop drivers wantonly ignore basic traffic safety rules.
The LTFRB is another inutile agency. It imposes drug testing to ensure that no drug dependent gets a license but does not check if drivers of public carriers know or understand traffic signs especially those on public safety though it has opportunity to do that during the renewal of drivers’ licenses and on seminars for delinquent traffic violators.
PNP officers and civilians deputized by the LTO to enforce traffic laws are no different. They are quick to issue tickets even for flimsy violations like wrong parking but are not keen in enforcing basic traffic safety regulations in their territorial jurisdiction.
Sta. Barbara, incidentally, is among the first local government units in Iloilo Province which attempted to enforce the maximum-speed-limit rule along the national road traversing the municipality. It has procured a radar speed detector that can capture images at a distance of vehicles speeding beyond 80 kilometer per hour. So far, though, we have not heard much from the project after its launching in 2010.
The road from Pavia to Sta. Barbara and from Banga Dama junction (Sta. Barbara still) to the airport have vehicles cruising above 80 kilometers per hour and nobody gets warned much less ticketed.
Human limbs and lives are at stake when drivers treat the roads as race tracks as what those of the southern Iloilo route do. Public safety is at stake as drivers ignore traffic safety signs. Public interest is at stake as government agencies enforcing road safety rules turn a blind eye on ignoramuses and maniacs behind the wheels of PUJs.
We can start with the associations of jeepney drivers and operators to inculcate on members their obligation of ensuring the safety of commuters and fellow motorists.
The associations can sponsor seminars to refresh members on safe driving and enabling them to read basic traffic signs.
So far, the various drivers and operators’ associations are only good at collecting annual dues and other contributions from members.