Story & Photos by Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes
ACCORDING to Presidential Proclamation 115-A, series of 1966, the month of May is observed as National Road Safety Month throughout the country. Every year various public and private sectors alike gather, commemorate and altogether strive to create our roads a safer place to be used and be in. And the past month has been dedicated to such meaningful affairs.
For one, Safety Organization of the Philippines, a professional, civic, nonprofit, national public safety institution dedicated to protecting life and promoting health, together with numerous government agencies recently put up the fourth National Road Safety Forum and General Assembly at Giles Hotel in Makati City.
With the theme “Obedience to Traffic Law, Rules and Regulations: A Challenge,” the talk discussed enforcement initiatives, vehicle-safety standards, public-utility vehicle operation procedures and standards, updates on the Road Safety Action Plan 2016-2022, enforcement of overloading laws and standards, and recommendations for road safety.
The Automobile Association of the Philippines and Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership, meantime, also had several worthwhile activities during the said month.
These are all valuable endeavors that help improve our conditions out on the road. Yet, not just curbed to the said period of the year, Filipinos have, in fact, been in a continuous dogfight to keep our roads safer—yet, thus far, in truth, has been in a “seesaw” battle.
From recent accounts, the 2015 World Health Organization stated that 53 percent of reported road user deaths in the Philippines involve riders of motorized two- or three-wheeled vehicles; 19 percent are pedestrians; 14 percent and 11 percent are, respectively, drivers and passengers of four-wheeled vehicles. Not to mention, the high death rate among motorcycle riders are linked to its increasing popularity and affordability. More so, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), for example, cited that the 23.8-kilometer Edsa highway, the busiest and most problematic area in the country with about 600,000 to 1 million vehicles passing through it daily, in fact, averages 28 road accidents every day.
The agency also mentioned that back in 2011, out of the 7.6 million motor vehicles, there were reported 77,110 road accidents in that year alone, wherein 370 were fatalities, while 15,827 were nonfatal injuries and 60, 913 caused damage to properties.
For this reason, not only the country, but the whole world unite together to muster energy in high pursuit for safer roads. Part of it is the Philippine Road Safety Action Plan, a 10-year campaign—which already started last 2010, aimed to reduce the traffic road accident rate by 50 percent come year 2020.
An out-of-the-box road-safety campaign
With all these campaigns thrown left and right, another group also seeks to make change through a unique way. Creators of the 22-year motoring and travel television show, Auto Review, had other things in mind when it comes to spreading the awareness.
More than just education and strictly implementing traffic rules and regulations, this ensemble is in active quest of instilling the essence of road-use in mind and in heart through the values and disciplines of sports.
Dubbed as “Road Safety Olympics,” with a theme “Be a good sport on the road,” the yearlong contest among members of the motoring industry, both corporate and public, alike compete in activities, such as basketball, volleyball, running, fuel-efficiency driving, cheering competitions and so much more.
“We thought of coming up with sports activities connecting them to themes of road safety to promote the advocacy. Filipinos love sports and competition and, hopefully—unconsciously—we’re able to imbed in their mind-sets that the exercises in these activities, like the simple respect given to referees during a game, can also be applied to traffic enforcers on the road,” Auto Review producer-host Ron de los Reyes said.
“Yes, it’s a competition. But, at least, after the activities, soon they’ll realize road discipline does, in fact, start with themselves and these exercises were just meant to trigger those behaviors,” he added.
In a study conducted by the International Association of Traffic and Safety Sources, a nonprofit agency based in the Netherlands, they found out that effective road-safety campaigns are the new and alternative ones that influence road-user behavior.
“For this, we should pay special attention to other disciplines studying human behavior, such as social psychology and economics. Here, interesting insights into human behavior and behavioral modification can be found, which may prove to be of use within the practice of road safety campaigns,” they shared.
With this in mind, Auto Review’s producers have been organizing this valuable advocacy since 2004, which have already harvested about more than 10,000 participants.
Out of 23 teams that participated, Mazda Skyactiv was hailed the over-all champions with 134 points, followed by Pasig Amazing Brakes in second, with 99 points; while teams MMDA Seatbelts (98 points) and Carmudi Go Greenlights (65 points) came in third and fourth, respectively.