The Highway Traffic Act at mga bagong dating - Part 4
By Constable Rey Olazo
This month, your Pulis Kababayan column will discuss the use of cell phones and electronic devices, and motor vehicle collision etiquette.
In June 2009 the Province of Manitoba enacted a law that amend the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) because of a high percentage of motor vehicle collisions caused by distracted drivers. That law prohibits drivers from using hand-operated electronic devices while driving. Based on statistics from Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), “one in four deaths on Manitoba roads involves a distracted driver more so, drivers who are engaged in text messaging on a cellphone are 23 times more likely to be involved in a vehicular crash event than those who are not distracted.”
As we do our day to day activities, how many times have we seen people driving a motor vehicle with one hand holding a cellphone talking to somebody, or worse, driving while texting? I can still remember doing a traffic stop (a T-stop) on a motor vehicle moving slowly and occupying two lanes on Portage Avenue. When I approached the vehicle I found the driver holding an eyebrow liner by her right hand while the left was holding a cellphone. She was steering with her elbows. I know that there are people capable of multi-tasking, but the danger of distracted driving are real and the evidence speaks for itself. By taking your eyes off the road for a moment increases the risk of vehicular collision considerably. It is better to be focused on your vehicle’s speed, direction and the vehicles and pedestrians around you.
In Manitoba, the HTA was amended with three Sections (214.3, 214.4 and 215.1), which dealt specifically with distracted driving. These amendments to the law punishes with fines and demerits drivers who operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using a hand held operated electronic device that is capable of calling, sending and receiving text and other form of messages. In addition, the HTA prohibits a driver from operating a motor vehicle equipped with a television set unless the same is mounted behind the driver’s seat and the screen is not visible by the driver. Also, what most drivers are not aware of is that operating their cellphone while momentarily stopped in traffic or at a red light is considered prohibited. A driver cannot wear earphones on both ears while driving a motor vehicle. However, the law exempts those drivers from the provisions of this amendment if they are using their cellphone to contact the police, fire and ambulance services because of an emergency situation. Also, exempt are drivers who legally park the vehicle near the curb or in a parking lot before using an electronic device.
The penalty for violating these provisions of the HTA regarding distracted driving, the penalty is a fine of $200 and two demerits on their driver’s license. Kung minsan hindi ang bigat ng fine o ang demerit ang dapat nating pagtuunan ng pansin kundi ang masamang resulta ng pagmamaneho while being distracted sa kadahilanang ang isang maliit na kapabayaan ay maaaring magdulot ng sakuna o kamatayan sa atin o sa ibang tao. It is your Pulis Kababayan’s advice, especially for those who cannot avoid the itch of using their cellphone, to buy a blue tooth or a hands-free device. It is cheaper than paying the fine reflected in the traffic ticket.
Motor vehicle collision etiquette
Sa ating bayan (Pilipinas) ay marami ang aksidente sa kalye na kung tawagin ay “hit and run.” Ang ilan ay nagresulta sa damage to property ngunit malimit ay physical injury o malagim na kamatayan. We thought that when me migrated here in Canada ay wala na tayong makikitang ganito. Bilang halimbawa, noong Disyembre ng nakaraang taon, nagpunta ako sa Superstore upang bumili ng pansahog sa tinolang manok. Matapos makapag-ikot ay nagbalik na ako sa aking sasakyan at ikinarga ang aking napamili, sa di kalayuan I observed a middle aged man standing beside his car swearing and cursing to an unknown individual who caused a dent in his driver-side door. It is a clear indication that whoever has caused it deliberately left the area in order to avoid liability. Maaaring ang ilan sa atin ay magsasabi na “what is the big deal?” gayong dent lang naman at baka hindi naman sinasadya. Ngunit kung ilalagay natin ang ating sarili sa lugar ng nasabing lalaki ay malamang mararamdaman natin ang gigil at pagkapikon, lalo na kung alaga natin ang ating sasakyan o hindi pa natin tapos hulugan.
In Manitoba, HTA Section 155 (2) punishes a driver who fails to remain at the scene of the accident and exchange particulars. Sa nasabing probisyon, ang mga driver na involved sa accidente ay dapat manatili sa pinangyarihan ng sakuna at makipagpalitan ng kanilang vehicle and driver’s license information at numero ng kani-kanilang telepono na kung saan maaari silang kontakin ng nakabangaan.
Under Section 155 (3) of the HTA, a driver of a motor vehicle who causes an accident resulting in damage to property must leave his particulars. Ito ang mga klase ng aksidente na katulad sa aking naunang kuwento. Both provisions have a penalty that the court will determine based on the extent of the damage done to the property or vehicle, or the injury caused by the collision, which normally involves a fine and demerits. Kung ating paiiralin ang ating ugaling palusot o “bahala na si batman,” there will be some of us who will take the chance of leaving the area of the accident in order to avoid liability. There are instances that it will work but most of the time, because of the modern CCTV technology and the help of concerned citizens (Crime Watch and Crime Stoppers), the MPI and the police will be able to identify the offending parties and make them pay the consequences of their cowardly behaviour. Sana kahit nasa iba na tayong bansa ay taglay pa natin ang aral na itinuro sa atin ng ating mga magulang – huwag mong gawin sa iba ang bagay na ayaw mong gawin sa iyo.
Sa ating susunod na edition ay atin namang tatalakayin ang tungkol sa mga gang at kung paano tayo magiging safe sa ating pang-araw-araw na pamumuhay. Hangang sa muli mga kababayan. Pagpalain nawa tayo ng Diyos.
Constable Rey Olazo is a member of the Diversity Relations Section of the Winnipeg Police Service. He can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. For urgent matters that require Police response please call 911 and for non-emergency you may call (204) 986-6222.