EDITORIAL - Heavy burden

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL -  Heavy burden

In several areas of Metro Manila, compliance with traffic rules has improved. Thanks goes mostly to the implementation of no-contact apprehension, which not only compels adherence to traffic rules but also eliminates opportunities for kotong or extortion of motorists by traffic enforcers.

Amid the economic woes brought by the pandemic and now skyrocketing fuel prices, however, there are motorists who find the fines imposed under the no-contact apprehension, typically ranging from P1,500 to P3,000 per violation, a heavy burden and at times excessive and unreasonable. For a motorcycle delivery rider and jeepney driver, such amounts constitute net earnings for a day or two.

While the fines can be contested, a motorist may have to spend half a day waiting in line at city hall to do so. And the complaint may be disregarded.

A common problem is that only a few traffic lights are smart devices that provide the time before the yellow and red lights come on. Many motorists have been caught in the middle of an intersection by a red light because of the absence of such time alerts, and are then slapped with a fine of P2,000.

Then there are traffic warning signs that are not prominently displayed, or unreasonable prohibitions, such as preventing a right turn upon a red light when there is no incoming traffic from any direction. There are also traffic lights that are unnecessary and should be disabled, such as the one in front of the Department of Public Works and Highways main office. Manila traffic enforcers wait in the bushes to pounce on motorists who disregard the useless stoplight.

Local governments that enforce no-contact apprehension must first ensure that smart traffic lights are in place. This must be done before the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Land Transportation Office begin a data-sharing program under which motorists will be notified of traffic violations by email and text messages. Stoplights that are not needed must be disabled. Most people prefer to follow the law, but the law must serve a clear purpose and be reasonable.


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