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Some thoughts on transport safety and security

There is an Office of Transport Security (OTS) under the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC). Under its mandate is coming up with plans and programs in order to ensure safe and secure travel for all. Security here is most often associated with the prevention of crime and the control of criminal elements in how they could affect transport (i.e., terrorists, robbers, etc.). I believe that this interpretation extends to safe driving as well since reckless driving is practically a criminal act especially when we realize the potential for fatal crashes due to these behaviors by drivers and riders. Unfortunately, the OTS like many agencies under the DOTC have a lack of personnel to be truly effective in carrying out their mandate.

I think passengers should be more proactive in ensuring their rides will be safe and secure. They should be in a position to pressure the driver to be more careful and responsible with the operation of the vehicle. However, there will always be apprehensions on the part of any passenger who might be thinking about the backlash or negative reactions they would get from the driver, conductor or even fellow passengers. Ironically, its the reactions from the latter that could turn something proactive to an embarrassing or humiliating experience. I recall one time a friend was conducting a survey on bus operations and one driver commented that passengers get angry with them when they slow down, saying the reason they rode buses of this particular company was because they drove very fast. Such thinking betrays their ignorance and disregard for safety – until, of course, they happen to be involved in a crash!

And so perhaps the OTS and other responsible agencies could enlist the help of other government personnel who would have the training required for authority figures on security and safety. For example, there are many of our servicemen in the armed forces and the police who take public transportation or who provide transport services by being operators or drivers (to augment their incomes with the AFP or PNP). Those who are passengers should assert themselves in the service of other passengers by accosting reckless drivers and reminding the latter of their responsibilities as service providers and the penalties for irresponsible driving. Servicemen can be formally (and legally) granted this authority by the LTO and/or LTFRB, which do not have the personnel to police the thousands of public utility vehicles around the country.