Speeding is the biggest contributor to road fatalities in the Philippines, officials say, but they…
Speeding vehicles kill.
That is why the transport department wants all 1,600 local government units (LGUs) around the country to set and enforce speed limits in their respective areas.
“We acknowledge that speed kills...Now is the appropriate time we enforce these speed limit settings so that we can slow down vehicles,” said Transport Undersecretary Mark de Leon at the signing on July 25 of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that would facilitate the nationwide implementation of speed limits.
Setting speed limits in different LGUs is provided for in a joint memorandum circular – JMC 2018-001—issued more than a year ago but whose implementation has been hampered by the lack of skilled manpower to enforce speed ordinances, or even draft such laws.
“We have 1,600 local government units all over the country. LTO (Land Transportation Office) only has 1,500 enforcers. We really lack enforcers so we really need the support of the local government units to make this a sustainable policy,” De Leon said.
The MoU, signed by De Leon, LTO Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante and ImagineLaw Executive Director Sophia San Luis, provides for additional training for government units on how to set and enforce speed limits.
Road safety experts say speeding is the most important contributor to road fatalities and the setting and strong enforcement of speed limits is one of the most important interventions in reducing road crashes and road crash fatalities and injuries.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there were 12,690 casualties from road crashes in 2016.
The World Health Organization says studies suggest that a one km per hour decrease in travelling speed would lead to a 2–3 pct reduction in road crashes.
The JMC 2018-001, signed on Jan 17, 2018, sets guidelines and standards for road classification, speed limit setting, and road crash data collection. It also provides LGUs a template speed limit ordinance and mandates LGUs to show proper speed limit signs.
The JMC is a joint undertaking of three departments – transportation, public works and highways, and interior and local government – and is intended to strengthen the implementation of Republic Act 4136, also known and the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the basic law regulating land transportation in the country.
Training of LGUs
Atty San Luis, whose public interest organization has been the government’s partner in crafting and implementing the JMC, said 300 LGUs have so far been trained in enacting speed limits since the Circular was issued. Experts from New Zealand and Slovenia have been tapped to provide speed enforcement training, she added.
“In just a year, we managed to train 300 out of the 1600, which I think is already a lot considering there were elections. But now, we are starting the training again and we have, at least, the next three years to complete the LGUs,” she said.
Among LGUs that have implemented their own speed ordinances are the municipality of Bontoc, the site of the bus crash that claimed the lives of 14 people in 2014; General Mariano Alvarez and General Trias, Cavite; Sta. Maria, Laguna; Antipolo, Rizal; Pagbilao and Tiaong, Quezon; Guinobatan, Albay; Balatan, Camarines Sur; and Consolacion, Cebu.
“The next order for us is to call the national DILG office to ask them to follow-up with the LGUs,” declared San Luis.
For this part, LTO’s Galvante says his office is putting together measures that can be implemented by its enforcers to ensure safety on the road, but acknowledges that training of enforcers and coordination with LGU counterparts are necessary.
Equally important, he said the LTO will have to “bring in the DPWH to classify the roads.”
Based on existing DPWH road classifications, the speed limit for cars on open roads is 80 kilometers per hour, but this speed should dip to 20 kph when it passes crowded streets, which include school zones and markets. For trucks and buses, on the other hand, the maximum allowable speed in open roads is 50 kph.
When needed, LGUs can set lower speed limits, according to the January 2018 JMC.
San Luis also said ImagineLaw will be launching a website called ‘Dahan-Dahan sa Daan’ to record all the speed limit ordinances that will be enacted in the Philippines.
“When you enter the website, you will see a map, and all the different LGUs will be tagged.”
The tags will be
classified by color. Municipalities with green tag signify an
effective speed limit ordinance; orange tags either mean they are not
fully compliant with the circular or not all roads are covered by the
ordinance. The red tag means an absence of a speed limit ordinance.
“So if you click on the tag, you will be able to download it in template letter that any individual can send to their local government to request for the enactment of speed limits,” said San Luis.
She said the website can help citizens “call out their LGUs to implement the speed limit ordinance.”
This story is produced under the Bloomberg Initiative Global Road Safety Media Fellowship implemented by the World Health Organization, the Department of Transportation and VERA Files.