Eyes on the road, not your phone

Almost hit a pedestrian who wasn't paying attention while crossing? Soon, in Baguio City, this will be a thing of the past. They're planning to enact a version of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act for pedestrians.

The City Council of Baguio approved on the third and final reading an ordinance prohibiting and regulating the use of mobile devices and other distractive devices while crossing the streets and walking on sidewalks.

SOFAD Eriko R. Coscolluela, proponent of the ordinance, said that using mobile devices and other distractive devices while crossing the street makes pedestrians lose awareness of their surroundings, making them more likely to be involved in an accident. In addition, the use of distractive devices may slow down their walking pace which may obstruct other pedestrians on the sidewalk and may affect their mobility.

The said ordinance was adopted by Councilors, Faustino A. Olowan, Peter C. Fianza, and Levy Lloyd B. Orcales.
Baguio City has cited that the number of people injured as a result of texting, talking on the phone, or listening to music has been increasing at an alarming rate, becoming a major pedestrian safety concern. It is also timely as the DOH has cited awareness of the road as a leading cause of road-related accidents.

Besides electronic devices, the ordinance also prohibits reading of any reading material while crossing a pedestrian lane and walking on sidewalks (Section 14).

Anyone who violates this ordinance will be reprimanded by the person-in-charge on first offense, fined P1,000.00 on second offense, P2,000.00 on third offense, and P2,500.00 with community service or 11-30 days imprisonment on fourth offense and succeeding offenses.

Authorities in-charge of monitoring and apprehension are Public Order and Safety and Division (POSD) of the Mayor’s Office, Baguio City Police Office (BCPO), Baguio Traffic Management (TMU), Barangay Tanods and Enforcers.

The final draft of the ordinance will be submitted to the Mayor’s Office for approval before it takes effect.

Baguio City is the first city in the Philippines to enact such an ordinance for pedestrians. It may seem a bit extreme, but a similar ordinance was filed in by New York Senator, John Liu, in May this year. It seeks a statewide ban on mobile phone use while walking. Citing risks and dangers posed by distracted walking; if passed, their version seeks to fine between $25 to $250.