THE Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) is on its way to activate its Major Road Crash Investigation Division which will investigate deadly vehicular accidents across the country and recommend scientific measures to prevent them from happening again and again, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
The major road crash investigation particularly looks at the country’s road condition including the absence or lack of road signs and signals, the vehicle condition and the need for owners, operators and drivers of public utility vehicles to exercise ‘utmost diligence’ in operating their vehicles, said PNP-HPG director, Brigadier General Dionardo B. Carlos.
Carlos said they will also be needing the help of all concerned agencies including the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology and Local Government Units in helping address deadly road crashes which has caught the attention of President Duterte.
The help of the DPWH and LGUs would be vital in looking at the road condition which is a major factor behind fatal vehicular accidents. On the other hand, the LTO and the LTFRB will be playing a vital role in ensuring the roadworthiness or lack of maintenance of a public utility vehicle as they have been seen as a major cause of deadly accidents, the PNP-HPG director said.
PNP-HPG operations division chief, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Tanseco said there is also a need for owners/operators/drivers of passenger buses, utility trucks, jeepneys and other for-hire vehicles to exercise ‘outmost diligence and care’ in operating their vehicles.
These include the need to ensure that the country’s traffic laws specifically when it comes to overloading or loading passengers for cargo spaces would not be violated, the official said.
Carlos said they have recommended to the DPWH the implementation of a standard for road design and construction considering the terrain and protection of environment like tunneling in slide-prone areas and provision of street lights.
He also batted for a continuing education for professional drivers; the strict enforcement of the Anti-Overloading Act; the strict enforcement of the mandatory alcohol and drug test for drivers involved in accident resulting in the loss of human lives or physical injuries; and the strict enforcement of the law on carrying passengers on motor vehicles not designed as such.
“We are also looking at appropriate post-crash response too to minimize deaths or injuries during road crashes,” Tanseco said.
Carlos said the major road crash division should involve a scientific and technical investigation by different agencies led by the PNP-HPG and the PNP Crime Laboratory’s Scene-of-the-Crime-Operations or SOCO teams to establish the negligence of drivers and operators.
On the other hand, the DPWH and LGUs will help establish road conditions at the time of accidents; the LTO for vehicle registration and roadworthiness and signs; the DOST for ensuring certified mechanics for vehicle condition; the LTFRB for franchise-common carrier matters; and the DoH for medical response.
“We are actually developing it to be the first in the country. Sa Pilipinas po ito, Major Road Crash Investigation Division – meaning a dedicated investigation division to determine the real cause of road crash,” Tanseco explained.
There has been a proposal to increase the PNP-HPG manpower to 12,000 in order to boost police’s efforts for road safety and security under the PNP’s reorganization and restructuring plans. The PNP-HPG will have to recruit engineers to become part of its road crash investigation team.
PNP-HPG’s data showed P4.381 billion worth of “total economic loss and societal harm” from road crashes over the past three months alone.
The PNP-HPG is currently mandated to run after highway robbers, car thieves and hijackers although it has also been tapped to help ease traffic woes in Metro Manila.
President Duterte has ordered the PNP-HPG to investigate the major road crash in Sitio Gassud in Barangay Buluan in Conner, Apayao last November 2 which killed 19 persons and injured dozens of others.