7 July 2

The first day in office of newly elected city officials proved to be a productive one – especially for the city government of Baguio.  One of the first and most popular ordinance they proposed to implement is the Anti-distracted Pedestrian decree.

Under the proposed ordinance, pedestrians will be disallowed from using their gadgets and other electronic devices while crossing a street to avoid distractions that may result in accidents.  Although the news did not specify the gadgets, I assume that foremost on the list is the mobile phone.  This means that Baguio residents and tourists must keep their phones away when walking along busy streets such as Session Road, Assumption, Magsaysay Avenue, Bokawkan, Bonifacio, Country Club Drive, South Drive, etc.

What types of devices and activities are prohibited?

Again, the news did not specify, BUT if given the privilege to air my opinion, I would recommend (apart from texting and calling):

  1. Listening to music with earphones on.
  2. Speaking on the phone using a Bluetooth earpiece (because this will still distract you – based on my experience. I could have my hands free from holding my phone while talking to someone but my mind would always be focused on my conversation, not on what my free hands should be doing.).
  3. Playing games, browsing online (including social media, online shopping, paying bills, etc.).
  4. Taking pictures – seriously, why would you want to take a picture while you’re crossing a street or walking down a busy road unless it’s the Shibuya crossing in Japan or Times Square in New York.
  5. Reading from an e-book. This should be self-explanatory.

What are the consequences if you break the (upcoming) law?

You shall be made to settle a fine of P5,000 and or spend some time in prison – when found to have violated the law at least three times.

First-time offenders will be required to render community service (Baguio is truly big on community service!) for 15 days and 30 days for the second offense.

Any exemptions?

Of course, if you can prove that your reason for texting or calling is a valid emergency, you will be excused.  Emergency responders performing their official duties are likewise exempted from the law.

I fully support this ordinance and I hope that other cities, especially in Metro Manila, would follow suit.  I have heard one too many stories of people getting hit by vehicles because they were busy tinkering with their phones or are listening to super loud music while crossing the streets or even just walking down busy alleys.  It is frustrating to see people lose their lives just because they are distracted by something as negligible as a text or phone call (or social media).

I want to hear your thoughts on this. Do you agree with Baguio City?

Reference: www.baguio.gov.ph

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