By Raynan F. Javil

Bill penalizing ‘distracted driving,’ others passed on third reading

Posted on May 31, 2016

FIVE MEASURES, including bills prohibiting and penalizing “distracted driving” and establishing a vision screening test for kindergarten pupils, were passed on third and final reading by the Senate on Monday.

Senator Sergio dlR. Osmeña III, acting chairman of the Senate committee on public services, said in a statement that Senate Bill (SB) 3211 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act is aimed at safeguarding the public “from the ruinous and extremely injurious effects of vehicular accidents.”

Section 4 of the measure defines “distracted driving” as performing any of the following acts while driving a vehicle in motion or stopped in a red light: “using mobile communications to write, send, or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls,” as well as “using an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations, and other similar acts.”

“While the State recognizes the vital roles of information and communications technology in nation-building, the State also takes cognizance of the inimical consequences of the unrestrained use of electronic mobile devices on road safety as to cause its regulation,” the SB 3211 stated.

The bill, once enacted into law, will impose stiffer penalties on violators including a fine of P15,000 and suspension of driver’s license for motorists committing their third offense.

The bill, however, exempts people “using mobile phones for emergencies, including calls to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services, agency or entity,” or to people “using mobile phones while operating vehicles providing emergency assistance,” such as ambulances or fire trucks.

SB 2948, sponsored by outgoing Senator Pilar Juliana S. Cayetano, sought to establish a National Vision Screening Program to help screen kindergarten pupils with visual problems.

Ms. Cayetano also said the bill would establish a centralized and organized program for vision screening tests for schoolchildren across the country, with the help of the Departments of Health and Education and other institutions.

“It is important that vision screening tests be conducted at an early stage, precisely to prevent complications in the future,” Ms. Cayetano was quoted as saying in a statement.

Another bill adopted upon third and final reading was House Bill (HB) no. 4366, which sought to establish a Science and Technology High School in San Jose, Antipolo, and HB 5746 which would convert the old Mayor Hilarion Ramiro Sr. Regional Training and Teaching Hospital in Misamis Occidental into the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Medical Center.

The Senate also adopted HB 6080 which would amend Presidential Degree 269 as amended by Republic Act 10531, or the National Electrification Administration Reform Act of 2013, to modify the qualifications for and create a screening committee in the election or appointment of directors and officers of electric cooperatives.