Concerns Regarding the Anti Distracted Driving Act

Concerns Regarding the New Anti Distracted Driving Act
The details of the Anti Distracted Driving Act + INFOGRAPHIC can be found in my previous post: Anti Distracted Driving Act – Reminders! 


What do you think of the new Anti-Distracted Driving Act? I do agree that it is for the common good, and I think that its heart is in the right place. However, while reading it, I can think of many gray areas where it can be subject to interpretation, or worse, abuse. Some terms are too broad or vague, too. Things need to be clarified so motorists know exactly what is covered and what is not. Does anybody have the answers?

Searching the net, I found several articles with different interpretations of the Anti Distracted Driving Act. I even read the whole thing myself and I am still not clear on some things. The most important question is – CAN I EVEN TOUCH THE PHONE AT ALL? Some suggest not touching the phone at all just to be on the safe side. But how can you not touch the phone at all if you are allowed to use it on speakerphone? Are you supposed to activate it with your mind or something? What about those people who are using feature phones? Also, the driving mode on smartphones generally suck, especially at reading our Taglish texts and textspeak.

Here are some questions I have just off the top of my head:

  1. Does this mean no touching of the cellphone at all while driving? What if it is on a hands-free car mount and you get a call? Naturally, you have to touch your phone to answer the call and activate the speakerphone. Will we be fined for this if caught doing so?
  2. What if the traffic enforcer claims that you were doing something else when you were, in fact, just answering a call on your phone and activating the speakerphone? This is assuming that the phone is on a car cellphone holder.
  3. What if you are caught in traffic? I mean, the kind of traffic that turns the street into a parking lot. But you need to call someone to advice them that you will be late. Or you need to take a picture of the traffic to report to MMDA’s Twitter account. Is being caught in really bad traffic considered under “motor vehicles which are not in motion”? See below Sec. 5 (c). It says “except those which are stopped momentarily at a red light”, what if you’ve stopped at a red light longer than “momentarily”? It’s Metro Manila, you can be at a red light for 30 minutes. When traffic hasn’t moved for more than 5 minutes can your car now be considered a motor vehicle not in motion?
  4. What constitutes an emergency? What if you are taking someone to the hospital and need to call people, but not exactly the police or the fire department? For example: if someone is about to give birth and you need to call her OB-GYN & relatives. Alangan naman yung nanganganak pa ang utusan mong tumawag. What if there was an ongoing disaster/bombing/mass shooting while you are on the road/stuck in traffic, and you need to call your family to check if they are alright? If we explain our emergencies to the traffic enforcer, will they believe us?
  5. What if you witness a crime on the road and want to take a video (while in traffic, because, Metro Manila)? This is where a lot of our viral videos come from, you know.
  6. What if some traffic enforcer pulls you over for some imagined violation? Can you take your phone out now and take pictures of him and record the whole thing? Can you use your phone now to call someone? What if they just pull you over and claim that they saw you using your phone even when you didn’t? How do you defend yourself from such claims?
  7. WAZE – Can we still use Waze? What if we need to change routes? What if we need to report traffic, road obstructions, etc…? We will be tapping on our phones (while car mounted) – is this okay? How will traffic enforcers know that we are doing Waze and not reading Facebook or something? And how can we prove it (so they can’t deny it)? It’s going to be a he-said-she-said type of situation.
  8. You need to install one of those car cellphone holder things. The key thing is that you should not hold the cellphone in your hand  – see Sec. 5 (a) below – The operation of a mobile communications device is not considered to be distracted driving if done using the aid of a hands-free function or similar device such as, but not limited to, a speaker phone, earphones and microphones or other similar devices which allow a person to make and receive calls without having to hold the mobile communications device.
  9. Vague – see Sec. 4. (b) Operating an electronic entertainment or computing device with one or both hands. What about a car stereo? It’s an electronic entertainment device, especially the new touchscreen ones. So can we switch radio stations, skip to the next song, or change the volume? What if you are using your phone/ipod as your radio (Spotify)? What if you set up an old phone for this (not your current phone) so it’s basically a car radio now and not a mobile communication device?
  10. I wonder how Metro Manilans are going to adapt this new law. How are we going to do those “Wer u na? M here na” or”Labas ka na, lapit nako” type of communications from now on? And what about those Uber drivers who need to reply to their rider’s texts? Sometimes the Uber app is not so accurate and I need to text my Uber driver where exactly to pick me up. Or sometimes the Uber driver is lost. Paano na di na makakareply yung Uber driver? Do they have to pull over every few minutes just to reply? What if it’s traffic and they can’t pull over? Any ideas?

I agree with the Anti Distracted Driving Act in principle. I am just concerned about how some people can abuse it and prey on hapless motorists.


Here are the relevant sections of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, the full text of which can be found here.

SEC. 4. Distracted Driving. – Subject to the qualifications in Sections 5 and 6 of this Act, distracted driving shall consist of the performance by a motorist of any of the following acts in a moving motor vehicle or a motor vehicle stopped at a red light, whether diplomatic, public or private, which are hereby deemed unlawful:

(a) Operating a mobile communications device with one or both hands; and
(b) Operating an electronic entertainment or computing device with one or both hands.

SEC. 5. Extent of Coverage. – (a) The operation of a mobile communications device is not considered to be distracted driving if done using the aid of a hands-free function or similar device such as, but not limited to, a speaker phone, earphones and microphones or other similar devices which allow a person to make and receive calls without having to hold the mobile communications device: Provided, That the placement of the mobile communications device or the hands-free device does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver.

(c) The provisions of this Act shall not apply to motorists of motor vehicles which are not in motion or are pulled over to the side of the road, except those which are stopped momentarily at a red light or in compliance with a traffic regulation.

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One thought on “Concerns Regarding the Anti Distracted Driving Act

  1. James

    I agree this law while it is useful it does leave a lot of questions needs to be answered, these I believe should be addressed when they comes out with the IRR.

    The “touching/tapping” to answer call is indeed tricky, reason why some suggest not touching at all. Although a lot of the cellphone nowadays have function for voice activated call answering and even voice activated to make calls and others, also most car now have HFT.

    For being being pulled-over, you will most likely be at the roadside and stopped so this allows you to make use of your phone. Same for making emergency, pull over first.

    Operating electronic entertainment like touch screen lcd is actually a cause of many accident worldwide while the driver is busy adjusting or tuning for radios or any other audio, splita seconds of eyes of the road can means a lot. This is the very reason also why there’s a remote audio control on the driver side nowadays. Unfortunately though for us, this doesn’t even seem to be allowed even when on a traffic stop.

    As for MMDA fabricating violation, unfortunately that is their norm.

    I just hoped that the IRR will be done properly.


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