By Deriq T. Bernard
OF all the places in the Philippines, Cagayan Valley has the highest number of road crash fatalities in proportion to its population.
And out of all the cities and municipalities in the region, Tuguegarao City has the highest number of road crashes, fatal and non-fatal. Tuguegarao police data shows that there was a total of 297 road crash incidents in the city from January to September of last year alone, that number is not expected to decrease if based on trends and statistics compiled for the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Road Safety report.
But the city is not backing down on keeping its roads safe.
Just before this year’s All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day celebration, the Tuguegarao City Government launched a road safety photo exhibit to commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims this November.
“Plenty of lives have been sacrificed because of road crashes in our City. This is why we need to pass our Road Safety Code,” said Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano as the City Government launched its road safety photo exhibit just a day before the November 1 and 2 holidays.
Recognizing the need to improve the road safety condition in the City, the local government started working closely with civil society organizations like ImagineLaw to provide safer roads for Tuguegaraoeños. After a series of meetings and consultations, the comprehensive Road Safety Code of Tuguegarao City is nearing its enactment after having been approved by the Committee on August 27, 2019 and referred to the Tuguegarao City Council for second reading.
By enacting the Road Safety Code, the city is ensuring that policies against speeding, non-use of helmets, non-use of seat belts, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs will be enforced in the City. It also mandates the Public Order and Safety Office to lead all activities promoting road safety, from planning and coordination to enforcement, monitoring and evaluation, and information, education, and communication.
Under the ordinance, Tuguegaraoeños are empowered to directly lodge road safety complaints through the citizen reporting system that will be created. This ordinance also institutionalizes regular auditing and maintenance of roads, installation of road traffic signs, and improved access for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, persons with disabilities, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
As highlighted in the photo exhibit, the Road Safety Code requires road users to follow speed limits and vehicular load limits, and prohibits risky driving behavior to ensure the safety of everyone travelling in Tuguegarao roads. Lastly, it mandates the conduct of trainings for traffic enforcers and barangay officials to respond to road crash incidents.
“As we remember our loved ones who have died or have been injured on our roads, we reaffirm our commitment to constantly provide safer travel to everyone. That is why we are working hard to make sure the Road Safety Code gets enacted as soon as possible,” Tuguegarao Councilor Claire Callangan, sponsor of the said ordinance and Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Women and Family said.