Last year, the bill on Anti-Distracted Driving quickly passed congress. Now, the law will take full effect starting this Thursday, May 18.

Under RA 10913, drivers are not allowed to use mobile communication devices when behind the wheel. The of act of writing, reading, sending a text-based message, making phone calls, or watching movies, surfing the internet, reading an e-book or performing any sort of computation on a mobile device by a motorist is banned, even when stationary during traffic or on stop lights.

Section 3 (e) of RA 10913 defines a mobile communication devices as mobile phones, two-way radios, or “similar devices capable of transmitting, receiving, or both, of encypted data and/or signals by means of wireless electronic or similar means”. The law also states that the mounting of the mobile communication device should not obstruct the driver's line of sight.

The extent of the coverage of RA 10913 goes beyond the private motorist in cars. The law also covers motorcycles, trucks, PUVs, school buses, cargo haulers carrying hazardous or flammable materials, cyclists, pedicabs, 'kuligligs' and animal or human-powered vehicles to name a few. Also added to the list are school buses. Construction vehicles are covered by the law if the said vehicles are driven on public roads. Once they reach the construction site, RA 10913 no longer applies.

Motorists can use mobile devices as long as it is through a hands-free means. Some of these examples include speaker phone, earphones, microphones and Bluetooth devices. As per the DOTr, using a mobile device while pulled over is legal. Two more exemptions to the rule are for emergency purposes and for the operators of emergency vehicles with the latter being used to the course or scope of their duties.

As for violations, the first offense has a fine of Php 5,000 while the second offense goes up to Php 10,000. And then, it is Php 15,000 for the third offense including suspension of the driver’s license for three months and Php 20,000 for the fourth offense including revocation of the driver’s license. There are heavier penalties that will be imposed for Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers, drivers of school service vehicles or drivers of a common carrier of flammable or toxic materials. Those caught in violation of the bill within a 50-meter radius of a school will be fined Php 30,000 and driver’s license suspension for three months.