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EDITORIAL - Accident prevention

Within less than a week, 16 people have been killed in road accidents in this country. Last Saturday morning, six people died and 16 others were injured when a trailer truck plowed into a tricycle terminal near a row of roadside eateries along Cabrera road in Taytay, Rizal.

The accident came on the heels of a collision last Wednesday in Davao City’s Bunawan district. Ten people died and seven others were injured when a passenger van crashed into a six-wheeler cargo truck. The van driver, who was among the fatalities, reportedly overtook another vehicle before the head-on collision.

The accident in Tanay occurred in a junction where a local ordinance has imposed a speed limit of just 10 kilometers per hour because of previous fatal mishaps. Police said several vehicles driving down Cabrera road to the Manila East Road have figured in similar accidents. Probers said the van was moving beyond the speed limit as it tried to avoid two tricycles. The van swerved and struck a tree as well as the tricycle terminal and eateries.

In 2012, a truck also hurtled down Cabrera road, killing five pedestrians at the junction. Last February also in Rizal, a tour bus lost its brakes and the driver slammed it into a post, killing 13 college students on a field trip in Tanay.

Accidents happen, but there are ways to minimize the risk of their occurrence. Road safety devices and warning signs can be installed at dangerous junctions, especially those at the end of sloping and sharply winding roads, with traffic aides posted to ensure that vehicles will slow down sufficiently.

With failed brakes often cited as the reason for road accidents, owners of trucks, buses and other mass transport vehicles must be required to subject their vehicles to regular maintenance of engines, tires and especially brakes. Failure to comply with such requirement for roadworthiness should be considered reckless endangerment of the riding public.

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Owners of trucks and mass transport vehicles must also bear the responsibility of ensuring that their drivers have the required skills for the job and do not take drugs to stay awake for long trips.

Accidents happen, but there have been too many of them on roads across the country. There is such a thing as prevention, and the measures are not impossible to implement. The recent fatal accidents show an urgent need to make land transportation safer.

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