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Mobile phone use while driving now banned

The ban on the use of mobile phones while driving is now in effect following the publication of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act. File

MANILA, Philippines - The ban on the use of mobile phones while driving is now in effect following the publication of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 10913 or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

Motorists can still use their phones provided this is done hands-free.

“They can use headphones. They can use their smart phones without holding it because the law states that drivers should not be distracted in driving even during the stoplight or temporary stop,” Land Transportation Office (LTO) executive director Romeo Vera Cruz said yesterday.

Vera Cruz said the LTO will regulate the use of these highly technical devices while driving, even if motorists are using them for navigation purposes or searching for alternate routes when they are caught in the middle of heavy traffic, such as through Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation application widely used in the Philippines.

“If they are using Waze, the device should not be positioned in a way that would distract the driver,” LTO Law Enforcement Service director Francis Ray Almora said yesterday in a phone interview.

RA 10913 defines “distracted driving” as “performance by motorists or drivers in a running motor vehicle or even temporarily stopped at the red light.”

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Under Section 5 of the new law, using smartphones or other gadgets is not considered to be distracted driving “if done using the aid of a hands-free function or similar device... provided that the placement of the mobile communication device or hands-free device does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver.”

The law, however, also exempts motorists using a mobile phone to make an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department and other similar agencies and emergency services.

Otherwise, motorists should park their vehicles if they have to use their phones and other gadgets.

The law’s IRR defines “distracted driving” as “the use of mobile communication to make or receive calls and write or send messages and other similar acts while the vehicle is motion.”

Other prohibited acts are using gadgets for playing games, watching movies, surfing and reading e-books, among others.

The law will take effect 15 days after the IRR’s publication in major newspapers nationwide last May 3, according to Almora and Vera Cruz.

Motorists who will be caught violating the law shall be fined P5,000 for the first offense; P10,000 for the second offense; P15,000 and suspension of driver’s license for three months for the third offense; and P20,000 fine and revocation of driver’s license for the fourth offense.

The law states that the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other concerned government agencies shall assist the LTO in the law’s effective implementation.

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