Monday, 11 June 2012

Special report: JPanganiban cracks down on helmet-less bikers

A man (right) is sprawled on the pavement after being thrown from his motorcycle. He wore no crash helmet.


THE MOTORCYCLE, or simply “motor”, is the most common means of transport in Mambulao – whether one is moving around within the town or going to places outside the poblacion, say to Larap and other baranggays.

With the bike, one is able to move around fast – and die fast.

Last April, MWBuzz learned that four bikers died in an accident which could have been prevented if only they wore helmets.

In Sta Rosa, for instance, Ms Escobar’s (full name unknown) bike slammed into a van and was thrown from her seat, her head hitting one side of the vehicle hard. She died on the spot.

On Holy Thursday, a certain Mr Guevarra split open his head, his brains splattered on the road when he was hit by a truck while biking. Wearing no helmet, his head crashed on the pavement.

Like the first three bikers, a certain Mr Marikit, who was on his bike – yes, you guess it – without a helmet and met his fate. He was hurled from his bike and landed on the road pavement, head first. His fall was deadly.

“They could have survived the accident, if only they wore helmet,” said Sandy Marasigan, referring to another incident where a second-year student died while back-riding with his father in his scooter.

Rolling at top speed, the bike’s front tire hit a fist-size stone, causing the scooter to swerve and tumble. The student had no chance, while his father was seriously injured.

An obvious truck-motorcycle collision ... there is less chance that the biker could have survive this mishap.

There has been a standing local ordinance known as Jose Panganiban Ordinance No 005-2007, which required “mandatory use/wear of safety helmets by all single motorcycle rider”.

Sponsored by Councilor Arthur C Canlas, the ordinance wants to ensure the safety of motorcyclists with the use of helmets, “to protect (wearer) from the impact of the crash or to minimize head injuries that could lead to brain damage and ultimate death”. This was approved on November 27, 2007.

On May 1, 2012, the Office of the Mayor began enforcing the helmet policy. Here, all municipal employees riding a motorcycle – whether he is the driver or the back-rider – are required to wear safety helmets.

“Disobedience shall be dealt with administrative sanctions aside from penalties imposed under the ordinance,” said the notice posted on the bulletin board on the ground floor of the town hall.

It was signed by Mar Alforque, the municipal human resource development officer.

Gathering dust since being promulgated on November 27, 2007, the no-helmet policy ordinance finally saw light and has been enforced since May 1.

It involved 10 traffic enforcers, who share in the amount of fines collected from violators. These enforcers are not actually regular municipal employees, but rather contracted to “do a job”.

For instance, Jesus Arnesto and Tony del Rosario said they would earn 50% of all the fines collected, and the rest goes to the municipal treasury.

The payment arrangement with the JP-LGU is sort of an incentive for them to work harder – meaning to check every violator.

But of course, the “compadre” mentality does persist that many still go free, said Arnesto and Del Rosario.

Mayor Dong Padilla was very explicit when he last briefed the enforcers: No-one should be exempted and that the municipal employees should serve as models.

Here’s a sampling of violations, as reflected on TCT (traffic citation tickets) that had been issued: Rodirico Rieza: license expired- fine: P100; Eric Torzar: driving without lincense – fine: P250; Joven Barcelo (student): no license – P50; no helmet –P100; and Felix Saulon: no helmet- P100 and noisy muffler – P300.

Well, there are still lots of violations to cause an apprehension and there are still many who would test the water to go around them.

And don’t forget, there could still be more deaths to follow if bikers would continue to ignore the importance of wearing a helmet.

A recent visitor from Pasig City, Ms Helen P Hernandez-Cortes, noted while doing errands in town: “Aba, halos lahat ng mga naka-motor ay may helmet … bakit kaya?”

A fatal accident involving a motorcycle and a delivery truck ... obviously, the biker was no match to this big vehicle.

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