Two years ago, we reported that the Land Transportation Office (LTO) would push through with mandatory driver training seminars as a prerequisite to acquiring a license. The more stringent process is hoped to rid the streets of reckless and uneducated drivers.
Now that the LTO is finally going ahead with the plan, it entails 15-hours of schooling for student permit applicants, as well as an 8-hour “refresher” class for those who are renewing their licenses starting August 3, 2020.
However, due to the threat the coronavirus currently poses, particularly when it comes to large groups in enclosed spaces, one solon wants to suspend its implementation.
Cagayan de Oro 2nd district representative, Rufus Rodriguez, has recently filed a resolution requesting for its suspension. Rep. Rodriguez has also requested for the temporary suspension of emission testing for registration. He has sent a letter to transportation secretary, Arthur Tugade, to suspend the implementation of Memorandum Circular 2019-2176 requiring driving seminar course for new applicants and renewals.
In his letter, the representative raises three points on why the driving seminars and tests should not be implemented right now. First, he says these tests and seminars must be free to ease the financial burden on the people. Motorists, particularly motorcycle riders are currently spending on masks and a backrider shield if they want to carry a passenger. The added expense of a driving seminar is another unwanted economic burden.
For his second point, he highlighted the difficulty of finding an open LTO facility to apply for a permit or license. Applicants living in far-flung places may have to travel far for the nearest LTO center and “pay an exorbitant amount” to obtain a license.
Finally, he suggests to Sec. Tugade that those with clean licenses (no traffic violations) shouldn't have to undergo the driving theory course. Again, this is to ease the financial burden on motorists during these difficult times.
Rodriguez isn't suggesting to scrap the seminars and courses altogether. He is in favor of the program, stating “I see the need for first-time applicants to undergo a theoretical and actual driving course”. He recommends studying the matter first, and/or find ways to make it free for applicants before its implementation.
The question now is this: should the driving seminars be implemented as soon as possible, or is it something that can be put on hold for now? There are more urgent matters at the moment (like controling the pandemic). Because the structure is similar to a classroom, it poses the same risks as spreading the virus.
At the same time, driver education is something that should not be overlooked.