Helmet law ignored, road death toll rises
DEATH ON THE ROAD. Young lives of three high school students were snapped Wednesday resulting from a motorbike accident on the national highway. The riders had no license to drive and helmets on their heads. (Foto: Jun-Jun Amora)
Three graduating high school students, riding together in a motorcycle without wearing helmets died Wednesday morning when their bike rammed into a speeding St. Jude bus along the national highway of Poblacion Sawang, Guindulman.
Victims Lindo Cabarrubias, 21 years old, Marvin Orang, 20 and Eutemio Llido, 18, all fourth year students of Mayuga National High School were supposed to march for their graduation rites this coming Wednesday, March 28, 2012.
They were riding from the upland barangay of Mayuga which is 16 kilometers from the town proper to collect money sent by the mother of one of the victims through a remittance shop near the public market when they met the accident.
Police report said the three were turning left into the national highway, in an intersection coming from a municipal road in barangay Sawang when they hit a St. Jude bus with body No. 87-C going towards Tagbilaran City.
The area is noted becoming scene of many road accidents due to the blind curve obstructed by houses standing in the corner of the intersection connecting the municipal road to the highway.
Bus driver Rolando Masco, 51 years old, said the incident happened so quickly. Despite applying the brakes, the victims’ motorcycle hit the front bumper and then skidded underneath the chassis of the bus. The bus’ tires skid marks on the road measured 20 meters indicating how far the victims were further dragged unto the cement pavement.
Cabarrubias was killed instantly on the spot while the two later died in a hospital the following day due to serious head injuries.
The driver had been working with St. Jude bus company for the last twenty years. He voluntarily surrendered to the Guindulman police station after the accident.
Traffic investigators found out that the three victims were not hearing safety helmets at the time of the accident. None of the three victims had a driver’s license.
Traffic officers of the Guindulman police said they regularly conduct checkpoints to apprehend motorcycle riders not wearing helmets.
A motorcycle driver however said the mandatory helmet wearing law is not strictly implemented. Apprehended motorcycle drivers are either just warned or issued citation tickets with a measly penalty of P100 or even less, based only on a municipal ordinance and not the national law R.A. 4136 known as the Land Transportation Code of the Philippines.
In the said law, first offenders are fined P1,500 which deters drivers from riding motorcycle without a helmet. The law requires also back riders to wear helmets.
One deputized traffic officer, who requested anonymity, said most enforcers or police officer prefer imposing the municipal ordinance which carries a lighter penalty compared to the national law for many reasons, including compassion for apprehended drivers if they are town mates, neighbors, friends or relatives.
Another reason is, most traffic enforcers employed by the municipal government issues the citation tickets (TCT) based on a local ordinance to generate funds for the municipal treasury. Compared to Temporary Operators Permit (TOP) tickets, these are submitted to the nearest land transportation LTO district office and the penalties derived are remitted to the national government.
In a verification check, most towns indeed has municipal ordinances penalizing non- wearing of motorbike safety helmets which has penalties ranging only from P100 below.
In many towns, motorcycles carrying three or even four passengers pass through traffic police officers on duty without being apprehended.
Student drivers and joy riders also speed through the national highway riding in tandem or four, without helmets and are simply ignored or tolerated by the police in the area.
In the City of Tagbilaran, mandatory wearing of helmet is noted as fully implemented.
LTO Tagbilaran district supervisor Joel Maloloy-on said he had fielded deputized officers to see to it that the law is strictly followed. Riders not wearing helmets are issued T.O.P and not just citation tickets.
The helmet law is even to become stiffer if the special law, R.A.10054 authored by Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. will have its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) expected to be approved soon.
The officer-in-charge of LTO Jagna also said if the helmet law is to be truly implemented, deaths involving motorcycle road accidents will be lessen.
“In most motorcycle accidents, those reported fatalities showed victims not wearing helmet; meanwhile those who had helmets just suffer minor bruises but not serious head injuries,” LTO-Jagna OIC Angie Mendez Enoc said.
“Municipalities should refrain from imposing penalties based only on local ordinances for helmet wearing violators so that the public will follow and the intentions of the law of protecting and saving lives are fully attained.”
“If the interference in the implementation of the law continues, then we will always be hearing deaths resulting from accidents of motorcycle riders not wearing helmets,” Enoc added.
Police provincial director SSupt. Constantino Barot Jr. was not available yesterday for his comments on the alleged laxity of traffic police officers in enforcing or imposing the required penalties of the mandatory helmet wearing national law.