Learning law the showbiz way
Dot Ramos Balasbas-Gancayco (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2016 - 12:00am

(The new Anti-Distracted Driving Act)

MANILA, Philippines – “Ignorance of the law excuses no one, not even if you’re a celebrity.” This is what a famous celebrity recently found out. To his deep regret.

Actor A was rushing to a film shoot and driving his car at normal speed. It’s not his celebrity status, however, that got the attention of Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic enforcers. It was his actions while he was driving. When he passed a couple of traffic enforcers, Actor A was furiously punching on the keys of his iPhone, oblivious of the traffic constables watching him from their posts. He needed to respond to several messages and the fact that he was driving was no reason to stop what he was doing.

When he got to a street corner, Actor A was approached by the traffic enforcers. Wondering what could be the reason the MMDA enforcers were interested in, he thought that he might have beaten the red light. But it was not the reason as he stopped on time. When he lowered his window after the first knock from the enforcers, he was told he just violated a law.

“And what law is that, sir,” he asked. “The new Anti-Distracted Driving Act, sir,” they replied.

The driving public may not be fully aware of it but the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (ADDA) became a law last July 21 after former Pres. Benigno Aquino Jr. allowed it to lapse into a law. Briefly, motorists are prohibited from using electronic devices — mobile phones, laptops, computers, electronic entertainment and computing devices, etc., while driving (and even when temporarily stopped by a red light), as these will affect their concentration on their important task — driving. (Many car accidents in the past have been caused by such acts of distracted driving which the law was purposely written to avoid.)

We should all take note that the law covers all diplomatic, private, public and government vehicles. (Yes, including those bearing special plates.) The law, however, allows voice calls or instances when the drivers are not handling their devices with their hands.

So there. Fight the urge to tap those keys to send SMS. For, without you realizing it, you may be the next violator to be apprehended for your infraction of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

(For more discussions on the new Anti-Distracted Driving Act, please watch Law Profile in Serbisyong Kasangbahay, UNTV Channel, tomorrow, Sept. 2, 4:30 p.m., hosted by Daniel Razon with the author as co-host).

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