Use of mobile phones while driving soon to be prohibited

THE Philippine Chamber of Telecommunication Operators, Inc. (PCTO), the umbrella organization of telecommunication public service providers, is strongly supporting the plan of some lawmakers in the Lower House to prohibit the use of mobile phones while driving a car.

In its just-held regular monthly meeting, the PCTO unanimously declared its concurrence with proposed legislation due to the alarming increase in motor vehicle accidents due to the use of mobile phones while driving.

There are currently two proposed pending bills in the House of the Representatives that seek to ban the use of mobile phones to motorists.

Currently under deliberation before the House Committee on Transportation under Rep. Monico Puentebella are House Bill no. 1625 or the Cell Phone Safety Act filed by Pampanga Rep. Aurelio D. Gonzales Jr., and House Bill No 4917 “An Act to Prohibit and Penalize Reading, Composing and Sending Electronic Messages while Driving, and for Other Purposes,” filed by Rep. Irwin C. Tieng, Rep. Rene M. Velarde and Rep. Ma. Carissa O. Coscolluela, Buhay Party List, or the “Anti-Texting While Driving Act of 2008.”

Both bills seek to prevent vehicular accidents and help protect lives by forbidding motorists from using their mobile phones while on board a moving vehicle.

Under the proposed legislation, placing or receiving calls and sending and receiving text messages is not allowed for both private and public vehicle drivers.

But, motorists using hands-free devices and speaker phone function to make and receive calls are exempted.

The Land Transportation Office will be tapped to implement this act with the assistance of the National Telecommunications Commission and other concerned agencies.

The said bills propose either to impose the penalty of up to six months of imprisonment and fines ranging from P200 up to P100,000.

Among those exempted are law enforcers while performing their official functions, authorized drivers of ambulances and rescue vehicles while on duty, persons responding to emergency cases or rendering public service, and TV and radio news reporters.

PLDT, Globe, Smart, Piltel, Innove, Digitel, Paptelco, Bayan, Capwire, ETPI, Extelcom, Philcom, and PT&T are all members of PCTO.

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