Known for fighting the forces of evil as 'Panday' in Philippine cinema, Senator Ramon Revilla Jr., is now going after a new enemy and it could be every motorist out there with a mobile device.
On February 23, 2015, Senator Revilla introduced Senate Bill (SB) 2663 or the Anti-Mobile and Gadget Use While Driving Act and it immediately had its first reading the next day and was then referred to the senate committee on Public Services.
The bill specifies that a motorist is operating under 'distracted driving' conditions, thereby unlawful, if in a moving vehicle or even in a vehicle stopped at a red light the driver operates 'a mobile communications device with one or both hands and/or is operating an electronic entertainment or computing device with one or both hands.'
Operation of the mobile device will not be illegal or considered 'distracted driving' if the driver uses a hands-free system, which includes the cabin's speaker system or an earphone so long as the driver does not place his/her hands on the mobile device and the device placed in a position that does not interfere with the driver's line of sight.
Even wheeled agricultural machineries such as tractors and construction equipment such as graders, rollers, backhoes, payloaders, cranes, bulldozers, mobile concrete mixers and the like, and other forms of conveyances such as bicycles, pedicabs, "habal-habal", trolleys, "kuligligs", wagons, carriages, carts, sledges, chariots or the like, whether animal or human-powered, are covered by the provisions of this Act as long as it is operated or driven in public thoroughfares, highways or streets or under circumstances where public safety is under consideration.
The only exemptions from this Act are:
(a) If the driver pulls over to a complete stop on the side of the road to momentarily handle their device. Again, handling your device while stopped at a red light is considered illegal.
(b) Drivers performing emergency functions or urgent official functions using the mobile device and as long as they do not have a companion in the vehicle who can perform the tasks for them.
A driver shall pay a fine of Php5,000 for the first offense, Php10,000 for the second, Php15,000 for the third and suspension of their driver's license for three months, and a Php20,000 fine and revocation of driver's license for the fourth offense.
Drivers of public utility vehicles, school buses, school service vehicles, common carrier hauling volatile, flammable or toxic materials, or a driver who commits an act classified herein as 'distracted driving' within a fifty-meter radius from the school premises shall be subject to a penalty of Php30,OOO and suspension of their driver's license for three months.
If passed into law, the implementing agencies will be the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and enforcing agencies will be the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine National Police (PNP) and other concerned government agencies.