String of rail accidents prompt stiffer penalties and enforcement

STOP, LOOK AND LISTEN! – that's the traffic warning sign that we see every time there's a railroad crossing. But, is anyone doing it? These days, only a few Filipino drivers respect these signs, resulting in a string of accidents lately that have caused serious injury.

As a result, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has directed the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to strictly implement Section 42 (d) of Republic Act No. 4136, the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code,” which says that a driver shall bring his/her vehicle to a FULL STOP before traversing any railroad crossing. Drivers and riders who fail to stop at railroad crossings will now be slapped with stiff sanctions.

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This directive from the DOTr stemmed from a recent railroad mishap in Calamba, Laguna that involved a UV Express van. Despite being warned of an oncoming train, it crossed the railroad. This resulted in a collision with the train, injuring 7 people, including a 2-year old child and an infant.

“Through an enforcement system, violators cannot just get away with their misbehavior. We will be able to determine those who deliberately and habitually disobey our traffic rules on rail lines,” said DOTr Undersecretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure, Mark de Leon. The LTO will now coordinate directly with the Philippine National Railway (PNR) to establish an enforcement mechanism on vehicles traversing the operating lines of the PNR. With this system, the government hopes that it will bring swift action to penalize errant drivers and ultimately avoid collisions along the rail lines.

“Aside from the safety of the public, we also need to protect our rail infrastructure given the high capital cost of these systems,” said Usec. de Leon. The trains, after all, are a valuable government infrastructure investment with already high operating costs associated with their acquisition, maintenance, and repair. Each collision is also costly, shutting down the line and affecting thousands of passengers.

LTO Assistant Secretary, Edgar Galvante, assured the public that the formulation of an enforcement mechanism will help prevent further loss of life throughout the railroad crossings. “We will work closely with the DOTr and PNR on the establishment of preventive measures to ensure the safety of the public, and inculcate discipline among drivers,” said Asec. Galvante.