In yesterday’s news, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) announced that it would enforce a 40 km/hr speed limit for buses and public utility vehicles (PUVs) on Commonwealth Avenue. Naturally, this was opposed by bus operators, who argued that the limit should be 60-70 kph.
I can’t believe that they have the nerve to suggest such a high speed, considering the rash of bus accidents that have occurred over the past few weeks, resulting in several deaths. I, for one, am hopeful that the LTO can enforce this rule, but, at the same time, I wish that other traffic rules be strictly enforced. As it is, it’s complete anarchy on Metro Manila’s widest road, with buses weaving in and out of traffic as if they were NASCAR stock cars, swerving from the innermost lane to the outermost to pick up passengers (often at an angle taking up two lanes), and ignoring all traffic rules.
Not that there’s any traffic enforcement on Commonwealth Avenue. After Quezon City mayor Sonny Belmonte announced back in April that Commonwealth Ave. would be treated as a traffic discipline zone, there seems to be hardly any indication that such a zone exists up to now. This is why I treat the LTO announcement with a great amount of scepticism; I’ll believe it when I see it.
At the same time, there is much that can be done about the recklessness of PUV drivers. First of all, stricter measures need to be taken in the issuance of professional licenses. I remember when my mom, who never drives, went to the LTO to have her license renewed, and, to her surprise, she was issued a professional license. Imagine how easy it is for anybody to get a professional license.
Before anyone can get a professional license, there probably should be psychological testing on the fitness of the applicant to be a professional driver. Stricter testing on traffic rules, as well as the practical application of these rules is a must for professional drivers. It should be impressed upon these drivers the great responsibility they have, as well as the consequences not only to them, but to their employers should they break the law.
Secondly, there has to be stricter enforcement of traffic rules. Traffic enforcers have to be well-trained and knowledgeable about these rules, so that better discipline on the road can be maintained. They should also be consistent in enforcing these rules, because sometimes, it seems as if they have certain choices about what rules to enforce at a given time.
Of course, for these to happen, there has to be strong political will on the part of our leaders, and, at the moment, it doesn’t look like the state of Metro Manila traffic is a major concern for them; in particular, Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chair Bayani Fernando, whose office is charged with enforcing traffic, seems to be more interested in singing his way to the presidency in 2010, as it’s been a while since he’s commented on the traffic situation in Metro Manila. With leaders like this, we probably won’t see any noticeable change on our roads.
UPDATE: Looks like the LTO still needs to get its act together on the speed limit. This morning, as I was driving along Commonwealth, I’m pretty certain that I was in the 40-50 kph range, and several buses and jeepneys sped past me. Like I said, regarding the LTO stance, I have my doubts.