Today we are holding a Road Safety Conference with the theme “Gearing-up for a Decade of Action for Road Safety: 2011-2020.” The theme is consistent with a worldwide campaign led by the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP) and its partners that aims to curb the sharp increase in the incidence of road crashes. The program was actually launched last year at the Road Safety Forum held in October in Singapore and formalized with the first Transport Ministers’ conference on road safety held in Moscow the following month of November.
The Road Safety Conference in the Philippines is organized by the Automobile Association Philippines and the National Center for Transportation Studies of UP, and is mainly sponsored by Toyota Motor Philippines as a major part of the latter’s advocacy for road safety. Partners include SafeKids Philippines, Pilipinas Shell and 3M Philippines. This year, we are happy to have on board the fledgling GRSP Philippines (PGRSP) that is comprised of major companies dedicated in promoting road safety in the country.
The program includes 3 panel discussions with the first one tackling road safety legislation including the status of the Road Safety Bill filed in the last congress. The second panel discussion will feature the International Road Assessment Program (i-RAP) that will be implemented in the Philippines through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The assessment will involve an automated audit of more than 4,000 kilometers of roads throughout the country. These include roads classified under the Asian Highway (AH) network as well as the tollways of Luzon island. The third panel discussion will be on eco-safe driving. which is a practice that aims to promote both safety and energy efficiency by encouraging more relaxed driving while putting emphasis on regulating the driver’s use of the gas pedal. The latter, in effect, allows the driver to manage the engine revolution so that upon acceleration and during cruising, the engine will only reach around 2,000 r/min maximum.
These are but among the many topics that are part of the bigger picture that is road safety. They are surely among the most interesting ones that are oriented toward actions necessary if we are to succeed in cutting down the steady rise in road crashes and save lives. The topics are also a welcome departure from past conferences where many presentations showed statistics and sought to establish context for road safety initiatives. That context is already well established and if one is not aware or has a clear understanding of the state of road safety, then perhaps that person is disconnected with what is happening around him.
This year’s Road Safety Conference will be held at the GT Toyota Asian Center Auditorium at the University of the Philippines Diliman. It is a whole day event that starts at 9:00 AM and concludes at 5:00 PM.
Ever since the current president of the Philippines mentioned his disapproval and disdain for the abusive use of sirens by unscrupulous individuals and organizations, there has noticeably been some “silence” in our streets. It used to be that vehicles with sirens muscled through heavy traffic to get ahead of everybody else, appearing as if their business was more important than all the rest. Never mind that those comprising the frustrated among those caught in the jam might be professionals like doctors, lawyers and engineers whose times were much more valuable compared to say, a relative or a staff of a congressman using a siren on their way to the shopping mall. Never mind that among those who were wallowing in traffic were students – the very future of this country – who might already be late for their classes. Never mind, too, that other people happen to be workers or laborers whose times were critical because they might be getting their pay based on an hourly rate. Now, you only hear the sound of engines, tailpipes and the occasional horns mainly from those who are in a hurry or public transportation drivers trying to catch the attention of commuters waiting for a ride along the street.
However, I would like to talk about a “wang-wang” of another kind. And this one is of the good type. “Wang-wang ng Bayan” is a radio program that went on air 5 weeks ago. It is a talk show hosted by two good friends, Sheilah and Dayo, who graciously accepted the invitation to host the show. Following are more info about the program taken from its Facebook page:
“The title of the program is a play on the local term for the sirens used by ambulances, fire trucks and police vehicles that were abused by politicians and people who thought of themselves as being more important than the average citizen. “Wang-wang” was specifically pointed out by the current President Noynoy Aquino in his inaugural speech as it became associated with abusive behaviour especially in traffic. In truth, “wang-wang” is an instrument for catching attention. And in this case attention is needed for us to be aware of and understand the current and enduring issues on transportation and traffic.
The objectives of the program are as follows:
1) Advocate – environmentally sustainable transport (EST) including road traffic safety, social equity, clean air, and other elements of EST
2) Clarify – issues pertaining to transport and traffic, focusing on current concerns in Philippine cities particularly in but not limited to Metropolitan Manila
3) Teach – the general public by providing current, relevant information concerning transportation and traffic systems, and sharing knowledge concerning transport and traffic”
So far, the program has tackled topics like traffic rules and regulations, u-turns, the odd-even scheme, pedestrian facilities, and motorcycles. Guests included the like of former LTO Chief and LTFRB Chair Bert Suansing, Traffic Engineer and UP Professor Ric Sigua, former MMDA traffic chief Ernie Camarillo, motorcycle riding instructor and expert Jake Swann. In its upcoming 6th episode, the show will have as guest current LTFRB Board Member Julius Garcia who will talk about public transport including challenges and current programs of the government.
It is through such a program that the academe could hopefully reach out (extend) to discuss and explain, or as their objectives state – ACT – about the relevant topics on transport and traffic in our country today. Truly, these are matters many of us need to be aware of and rightfully informed rather than misinformed. “Wang-wang ng Bayan” airs on DZUP 1602 AM radio every Wednesday from 1-2 PM (Philippine time). It is also available online via livestreaming.