Pushing for a standard wage
Another solution to help compel these bus drivers to act more safely on the road is to remove the commission system with the bus drivers and conductors, and instead, implement a standard wage. By removing the incentive program type of pay scale, perhaps the bus drivers won’t act so recklessly on the road since they are assured of a paycheck regardless of the number of passengers they chase.
However the bus operators have vehemently complained about this suggestion, as they fear it would cut their profits. Without an incentive for the bus drivers to get more passengers, operators feel that the bus drivers simply won’t bother to fill the buses to maximum capacity and they won’t make the effort to get as many passengers as possible.
Another MMDA inspired move has been to push bus operators to hire more female drivers. This is because female drivers seem to be safer drivers. There are significantly more males involved in vehicular accidents than females.
According to the MMDA, in 2010, there were only five female drivers involved in fatal vehicular accidents, compared to 137 male drivers. For non-fatal road accidents, only 403 women drivers were involved, versus a staggering 5,779 male drivers.
These statistics are due to the presence of more male drivers than females. However, studies show that female drivers are less likely to be aggressive on the road, are more patient on the road, are less likely to be involved in vehicular accidents, and have insurance claims that tend to cost less than those of men. Perhaps having more professional female drivers would add a softening influence on the road and help make the drivers less aggressive.
At the same time, hiring more women to be bus drivers would also help support gender inequality issues in the country. While the idea has merit, bus operators still seem to be more partial to male drivers.
Imposing and implementing a speed limit on the bus drivers should help. In this country, because the drivers and passengers themselves don’t seem to have the discipline to obey traffic regulations, they have to be physically incapacitated into action for them to follow the law. The line, “Naghahanap buhay lang ho” is old and shouldn’t be made an excuse to disobey the law or disregard public safety.
This is why EDSA has so many pink fences and barriers. As much as these are en eye sore and can cause many vehicular accidents, the fences do their job in corralling buses and passengers who can’t follow the simple rule, “Bawal magsakay dito.”
Perhaps if a device prevented the buses from going faster as soon as a designated speed limit is reached, then it would force them to slow down.
Stricter issuance of driver’s license
The Land Transportation Office should also be stricter about whom to issue licenses. Some people simply should not be driving on the road because they are unaware of the rules and regulations or lack the skill to safely handle such large vehicles.
The written and practical driving tests should be mandatory for drivers before the issuance of a driver’s license, but especially for professional drivers. We should hold professional drivers to higher and stricter standards because they literally responsible for millions of lives. LTO officers should be more stringent about who gets a driver’s license.
One measure should be perhaps to require all professional drivers to have a high school diploma. Driver’s education can be a class taught in school. More education does tend to compel people to act in a more civilized manner. This should also help curtail the high drop out rate of students in schools. Do we really want drivers who are illiterate and don’t understand traffic signs on the road?
In the US, driver’s education is taught in public schools to help prepare students. There is a driver’s manual that must be studied. There is a written test that must be passed, aside from an actual driving exam that lasts about 20 to 30 minutes conducted by trained personnel from the Department of Motor Vehicles. These are just some safeguards to ensure that the drivers are truly qualified before hitting the road.
The driver’s license of drivers deemed at fault for several motor vehicle accidents, especially those involving fatalities should be suspended.
Driving is a privilege. If we place more value or a premium on professional driver’s licenses, perhaps drivers would be more inclined to act with more decency and dignity on the road. If you make something more difficult to achieve, it is more likely that the person will take more care not to lose it.
Make bus operators fleet line responsible
It is also up to the bus operators to ensure that their drivers are properly trained. If they have erring bus drivers, the DOTC should have the right to suspend not just the driver but also hold the bus operator accountable. The bus operators can complain and whine, but the DOTC needs to remember that it is protecting and fighting for public safety. Hitting them where it hurts is a surefire way to discipline them.
Need for better public transportation
Our highly urbanized city needs a massive public transportation system that will connect various parts of the metropolitan. If we had an extensive train system like other major cities such as New York, Paris or Tokyo, then people would take public transportation rather than drive their own vehicles.
Given the volume of people who commute daily, we need more trains to service the public. There should be more stops and interconnected lines than there are fingers on the hand. If the government provided the public with clean, safe and reliable public train systems, people would take advantage.
This of course would entail massive investments on the part of the government.
In 2010, The Aquino government unveiled 21 massive transportation projects. This includes the extension of the LRT from Baclaran all the way to Bacoor Cavite. LRT 1 and MRT 3 will also be seamlessly interconnected. At the same time, LRT 2 will also be extended by four kilometers, from Santolan, Pasig to Masinag Junction in Antipolo, Rizal. However, these are all still in the studying phase and bidding has yet to commence.
Doing what we can
Until these long-term solutions are acted upon, we simply have to utilize the other creative proposals to address the growing traffic concerns and the need to ensure the safety of passengers on the buses.
No one said the solutions would be easy or painless, but we have to act now because lives are at stake.
Perhaps the “matuwid na daan” of President Aquino shouldn’t just be a metaphorical phrase, but an actual train line, much like the MRT and LRT that could carry and transport thousands of commuters on a daily basis. If the drivers are disciplined, whether they are bus, jeepney, taxi, motorbike or private vehicle drivers, EDSA could one day be a “matuwid na daan.”