Following is the letter of Wheels Magazine publisher and editor Ira Panganiban, a commentary on the implementation of the Anti-Distracted driving law, which took effect May 18. It is addressed to Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary, Leah Quiambao.
Dear Asec Quiambao,
Let me clarify a few things about driving, windshield design and use of gadget on the dashboard.
1. Driving entails the use of many of our body parts for a safe and productive effort.
We use our hands, feet, eyes, ears and brains to propel a half a ton compendium of steel, rubber, leather to bring us to a desired location.
Our feet decide the speed or when to stop, our hands decide where the car will go, our eyes tells us if it is safe and proper to move forward (or backward in case necessary), our ears to inform us of non visual cues like those behind us, and our brains to process all of these together and make a safe and informed decision every second of our driving experience.
An international study done by the American Highway safety board says taking our hands, eyes or feet off the instruments in our car that requires these organs is dangerous to the driver and everyone else on the road.
Take your eyes three-seconds off the road at 60kph is like driving blind or with our eyes closed for more than four lengths of a basketball court.
Taking your hands off the steering wheel for three -seconds may cause your car to veer of the road or hit a crossing car or person with you unable to react properly.
Taking your feet off the pedals, and believe me this is one big issue for American teens when cruise control was invented, for three-seconds may cause you to crash into another vehicle in front of you because it took too long to hit your brakes.
Having an occupied mind while driving may distract you from the goings- on in the road to appreciate the condition early enough to avoid an accident.
All of these contribute to a safe or unsafe driving habit.
2. Windshield is designed the way it is today because it allows a clear view into the highway by both the driver and the passenger.
The delineating line for visual clarity for a driver is the line crossing the middle of the rear view mirror vertically or from the roof line to the dashboard line.
This means the driver will see the road and the sidewalks clearly even if you cover the passenger side of the windshield. There is no distraction from the road view past the rear view mirror to the right of the windshield.
3. Gadgets on a dashboard has been proven by automobile engineers around the world to be safe as long as it is placed away from the direct view of the driver to the road.
This is why “heads up displays” are now the new dad in automobiles because it gives information to the driver without the having to take his eyes off the road.
Entertainment systems are not safe gadgets in a car as they require the driver to take his eyes off the road to manipulate. That is why there are car brands that have entertainment and cooling system controls angled towards the front passengers. It is the same reason why stereo controls have been placed on the steering wheel, so the driver does not need to take his hands off the wheel or eyes off the road.
Now for you to say “PLACE YOUR DEVICES UNDER THE STEERING WHEEL OR ON THE ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM” is totally wrong.
The law is sufficient. What is needed are real experts to explain the intricacies of the new law and how it affects drivers.
Dash and windshield mounts are safe when located at the proper places of a car. Even the Europeans, Americans and Canadians, who have had this Anti -Distracted Driving Law since 2002 allow dash and shield mounts for navigation devices.
I hope you guys do more studies in order that you can be more effective in informing the public about this new law.
Everyday driver on EDSA