By Severino C. Samonte

How safe are we from those careless and reckless drivers on the road?

February 8, 2024, 4:41 pm

Every now and then, we read in the newspapers or hear from radio and television news reports about grim accidents involving various types of motor vehicles, including buses and big and overloaded cargo trucks along roads in various parts of the country.

The usual reason given by the drivers to traffic investigators as cause of the accident was "lost brakes" and other malfunctioning mechanical parts of the vehicle.

Whenever I read about vehicular accident reports, often accompanied with photos showing dead and injured victims, or houses near the road shoulders rammed and destroyed by cargo trucks driven by apparently reckless or drunken drivers, I am tempted to ask myself the following questions:

--How safety-conscious are the men behind the wheel of the millions of different types of motor vehicles in the country today as far as other motorists, plain pedestrians, and even houses near the roadsides are concerned?

--Do all the truck drivers licensed by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) have the necessary experience, qualifications and capabilities to operate those giant vehicles measuring 20 to 40 feet long, weighing as much as 20 tons and carrying cargo of equal weight or more?

--Are the heavy vehicles they are driving really road-worthy in terms of air and hand brakes, steering mechanism and similar devices?

I have a very valid reason to be very concerned with motor vehicle accidents, whether here in Metropolitan Manila or elsewhere.

About five years ago, a speeding bus from Cubao, Quezon City bound for Norzagaray town in eastern Bulacan via Commonwealth Avenue and Fairview hit a big concrete post marking the boundary of Quezon City and North Caloocan City between Kilometers 23 and 24 along Quirino Highway in Barangays Greater Lagro and Amparo in Novaliches.

More than a dozen passengers and the driver of the bus were killed and several others were injured seriously in that mishap.

Just last month, there were newspaper reports that a bus traveling on the Olongapo-Gapan Road in Central Luzon triggered a multiple vehicular collision in Dinalupihan, Bataan, resulting in the death of three persons and injuries to more than two dozen others.

Much earlier, on May 6, 2004, the 28th birthday of my youngest daughter Christine nearly turned into a tragedy when a wayward cargo truck weighing 20 kilograms and loaded with 400 sacks of animal feeds (about 20 tons) hit and destroyed a portion of our house located along Gen. Luis St. in Barangay Nagkaisang Nayon, Novaliches.

In just a few seconds, the truck demolished like a deck of cards a sizable portion of the house which took us more than four years to complete from 1992 to 1996 through a housing loan from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

Altogether, the damage to the 10-square-meter L. shape wing of the house, including some appliances, school supplies and other movable properties stored in it, was estimated at half a million pesos.

Fortunately, no one among the members of my family was injured. Another daughter of mine, Leilani, and her then two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Lalaine were right in that spot a few seconds before the mishap occurred.

Leilani was putting drinking water for cooling in their refrigerator when she heard a very loud noise caused by what she thought was hard metal slamming against metal in a warehouse on the opposite side of the road in front of our house.

By instinct, she immediately grabbed her daughter by the arm and ran toward safety in the inner portion of the house, just in time before the heavy truck hit the area where the refrigerator was located.


About the Columnist

Image of Severino C. Samonte

He began his journalistic career by contributing to the Liwayway and Bulaklak magazines in the 1960’s. He was the night editor of the Philippine News Service when Martial Law was declared in September 1972. When the Philippine News Agency was organized in March 1973, he was named national news editor because of his news wire service experience.

He retired as executive news editor in 2003. He also served as executive editor of the Malacanang-based Presidential News Desk from 1993 to 1996 and from 2005 to 2008.