Ban of Mobile Phone Use While Driving Starts May 18

Wilbert Tan

Drivers, beware of using your mobile devices while driving, because Anti-Distracted Driving Act (ADDA) that lapsed into law last July 21, 2016 will now be enforced nationwide beginning May 18, 2017.

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The ADDA makes it illegal for a driver to use mobile devices while the vehicle is in motion and while stopped at a red light. The list of prohibited devices includes phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic gadgets. The law does not distinguish between diplomatic, private, and public vehicles.

However, drivers can still use their phone’s hands-free feature. Exceptions to the rule also exist, which include using mobile phones while stopped at permissible areas and for emergency purposes, such as an urgent call to healthcare provider, fire department, law enforcement agency and other emergency service provider.

Vehicles providing emergency assistance, such as an ambulance, fire truck or police car, are also exempted from the rule.

What distracted driving means

ADDA defines distracted driving within the context of the following acts:

  • Using a mobile communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.
  • Making or receiving calls.
  • Using an electronic device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, perform calculations, read e-books, and other similar acts.

Drivers are not allowed to perform these acts while the vehicle is in motion or temporarily stopped at a red light. Any driver caught using a mobile device will be apprehended and penalized. Penalties for violations are as follows:

  • 1st offense: P 5,000 fine
  • 2nd offense: P 10,000 fine
  • 3rd offense: P 15,000 fine and 3 months’ license suspension
  • 4th offense: P 20,000 fine and driver’s license revocation

Hands-free use is permitted

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Land Transportation Office (LTO) executive director Romeo Vera Cruz said that his agency is the one in charge of regulating mobile phone use while driving. Even using such a device for navigation purposes is not allowed.

“They can use headphones,” Vera Cruz said. “They can use their smart phones without holding it because the law states that drivers should not be distracted in driving even during the stoplight or temporary stop.”

“If they are using Waze, the device should not be positioned in a way that would distract the driver,” LTO Law Enforcement Service director Francis Ray Almora said in a phone interview.

The law takes effect after ADDA’s announcement and publication in major newspapers nationwide. This was last May 3, which is why the schedule for the law’s enforcement is on May 18.

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