Press Release
May 30, 2016

Jinggoy bill banning cellphone use while driving approved by the Senate

The Senate approved on Third and Final Reading today a Senate bill which prohibits use of cellular phones and other mobile communications device while driving a motor vehicle.

Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, principal author of Senate Bill 3211, says there is a need to regulate usage of electronic devices among drivers, impose discipline among motorists, and proscribe distracted driving in order to promote road safety.

The chamber's passage of the bill coincides with the observance of the Land Transportation Safety and Accident Prevention Month this May in accordance with Presidential Proclamation 115-A (1966).

The legislative proposal declares the following acts in a moving vehicle, whether diplomatic, public or private, as unlawful: 1) use of mobile communications device, including cellular phones, wireless telephones, two-way radio transceivers, pagers, among others, to write, send, or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls; and 2) using an electronic entertainment or computing device, including laptop computers, tablets, video game consoles, among others, to play games, watch movies, surf the internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations and other similar acts.

Whoever violates these provisions shall be penalized with a fine of 5,000 pesos for the first offense, a fine of 10,000 pesos for the second offense, and a fine of 15,000 pesos and a three-month suspension of the driver's license for the third offense.

Nevertheless, the measure allows certain exceptions such as making calls to law enforcement agencies, health care provider or fire department and the like during emergencies, and to those driving emergency vehicles such as ambulance, fire truck and others providing emergency assistance.

"The bill aims to curb the escalating statistics on vehicular accidents brought about by driver's error, particularly on cellular phone use where drivers often neglect the importance of full and undivided attention while driving their vehicles," Sen. Estrada said in his Senate Bill 365 explanatory note, as he also noted the absence of concentration can be fatal not only to the driver and their passengers, but also to other drivers, pedestrians, and private properties.

Information from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that "drivers using a mobile phone are approximately four times more likely to be involved in a crash than when a driver does not use a phone."

Further, it says "Using mobile phones can cause drivers to take their eyes off the road, their hands off the steering wheel, and their minds off the road and the surrounding situation... Evidence shows that the distraction caused by mobile phones can impair driving performance in a number of ways, e.g. longer reaction times, impaired ability to keep in the correct lane, and shorter following distances."

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