The Amianan bus crash in Baguio City at about 2:00 p.m. on October 11, 2012 marked the third road mishap recorded by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in three weeks. Said passenger bus, with plate number AYK 317, met an accident at Kilometer 4 Marcos Highway, Baguio City, while it was being driven by Joselito Zuniega.
Out of 19 passengers, 12 were reportedly injured and immediately rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, namely Analisa Lacambra, Carolina Dapnisan, Jenny Chapyosen, John Eric Pascua, Jomar Mendoza, Jushua Mallari, Ma. Demoiselle Orpiano, Mark Anthony Fang, Mary Ann Molina, Milca Orpiano, Rosita Acangan, and Rosita Labutan. Injured passengers are identified as locals of Baguio City, Bacolod City, La Union, and Pangasinan.
Many personnel were said to have responded to the Baguio road accident such as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center-Disaster Operation Center, Police Station 10, Baguio-Benguet Public Information and Civic Action Group, Baguio City Emergency and Medical Services, Baguio City Fire Station, and civilian volunteers.
Based on the NDRRMC report, the Office of Civil Defense-Cordillera Administrative Region extended assistance in coordinating and monitoring the incident, while the Department of Health-Cordillera Administrative Region validated the identities of the injured passengers.
Meanwhile, a Vallacar Transit Bus crashed at Brgy. Luca, Ajuy in Iloilo at around 2:00 p.m. on October 7, four days prior to the Baguio City road mishap. The bus accident left 16 injured and one dead.
Sherlyn Buendia, 11, died on the spot, while the rest of the passengers were brought to nearby medical centers such as Barotac Viejo District Hospital, Ramon Tugbang Medical Hospital, Sara District Hospital, and Ajuy Rural Health Unit.
The 16 injured passengers were identified as Cristina Rosal, Daisy Mae Buendia, David Cris Selvo, Denver Montinola, Faith Barquillo, John Vincent Centeno, Julian Balnis, Manuel Tiongson, Pedro Francisco, Pepito Brillantes, Perpetua Peregrino, Reynaldo Balnis, Rose Tabino, Susan Balbaguio, Gerlie Ricaña, and someone simply known as ‘Reynaldo.’
Unfortunately, it was not the last time a Vallacar Transit Bus encountered a road accident in the area, although the second one reported no casualties, according to the NDRRMC report.
Another road mishap was the tragic collision of a passenger jeepney and a 14-wheeler truck at Brgy.18, San Isidro, Ilocos Norte on October 2 around 7:30 a.m. The passenger jeepney with plate number AVZ 924 hit a truck with plate number TGW 104, resulting to 10 dead passengers and four injured ones. Most of the passengers were students about to go to school.
But the death toll rose to 12 after some of the victims ended up dead upon suffering from serious injuries. Further reports revealed that the driver and the conductor of the jeepney, namely Ludwig dela Cruz and Glister Romero, were declared dead on arrival after they were rushed to Ablan Hospital. The truck driver, on the other hand, immediately surrendered to the police for further investigation.
According to the police report, the jeepney attempted to overtake a vehicle when it bumped into the truck loaded with tomato paste. Officers from the Philippine National Police, along with barangay officials, helped in bringing the victims to nearby hospitals.
Shortly before this gruesome vehicular accident in Ilocos Norte, a collision involving a passenger bus, motorcycle, and tanker occurred around 2:30 a.m. on September 26 at Purok Curva, Brgy. Bantug, Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
While traversing Maharlika Highway, a Victory Liner bus with plate number CWR 195 ran into a Honda Wave motorcycle with plate number YZ 5358 and an Isuzu truck gasoline tanker with plate number XMD 771.
Said Nueva Ecija vehicular collision claimed the lives of the bus driver, truck driver, motorcycle driver, motorcycle passenger, and five bus passengers, and injured 14 passengers.
Muñoz and San Jose City personnel performed first aid and rescue operations, while the Local Government Unit of the Science City of Muñoz took care of the clearing operations. Nonetheless, local Bureau of Fire Protection officers secured the gasoline tanker and the bus.
Most, if not all, of these vehicular incidents occurred at a common time. Perhaps that is not surprising with the findings of the “Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees,” or PRAISE Project, in 2010 sponsored by the European Commission and the European Transport Safety Council.
The project asserted that, “Crashes caused by tired drivers are most likely to occur on long journeys on monotonous roads, between 2am and 6am, between 2pm and 4pm, especially after eating or drinking even one alcoholic drink.”
The same study attributed these crashes to sleepy drivers on the road. That is why the PRAISE project encouraged vehicle operators to promote awareness on the risks of sleepiness while driving and recommended the adoption of guidelines on how to manage sleepiness while driving. Nonetheless, it prescribed “proper sleep pattern” among drivers which should be embedded on the driving policy of vehicle operators.
The series of road mishaps in the past couple of weeks unfortunately deviates from the 2011-2020 Philippine Road Safety Action Plan, published at the World Health Organization website, that seeks to reduce traffic incident rate by at least 50% by 2020 in accordance with the overall objective of “Saving 600,000 lives and preventing a commensurate number of serious injuries on the roads of Asia and the Pacific over the period of 2007 to 2015.”
Also, these road mishaps were possibly brought about by negligent driving. Vehicle operators and drivers might have overlooked the “Unified Safe Driving Principles,” also known as “The 10 Commandments of Driving Safely,” courtesy of the Decade of Action Road Safety 2011 to 2020, which was launched not only in the Philippines but all over the globe.
In support of the campaign, there were reports in June 2012 disclosing that several drivers and managers coming from 43 transport companies in the country signed a commitment to the global campaign of reducing road accidents during the 1st Vehicle and Traffic Safety Conference at the Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City.
But what are these commandments, really?
(1) leadership and accountability toward operational safety
(2) observance of regulatory requirements
(3) personnel qualification, selection, and training of drivers
(4) staying alert and preventing fatigue
(5) meticulous vehicle selection and specification
(6) vehicle maintenance and servicing
(7) high-visibility of drivers and vehicles
(8) journey hazard management
(9) on-site road traffic and management
(10) incident reporting and investigation
Recently, the government also imposed the controversial Department Order 118-12 providing fixed salary rates to public utility vehicles (PUV) drivers along with other wage-related benefits in the hopes of promoting safer roads to pedestrians and improve working conditions of drivers and conductors. But I wonder if this could resolve simple but vital driving issues, such as sleepiness while driving or texting while driving, which triggered many road accidents in the past.
While it’s easy to blame drivers for every vehicular crash, let’s not forget the responsibility of vehicle operators who should be on top of everything. What have they done after those vehicular accidents involving their drivers and buses? Should they partly be blamed as well? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure: they ultimately bear the damages caused by these accidents.