A motorcyclist shares his lesson after suffering from three road crashes in over four years. “We…
Mandatory wearing of reflectorized vests is being pushed in Baguio City in a bid to curb road crashes.
The City Council has introduced an ordinance that requires all riders of motorcycles, e-bikes, scooters and bicycles to wear high visibility reflectorized vests or jackets when traveling within the roads and streets of Baguio City from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Violators will be penalized.
The measure, authored by Councilor Elaine Sembrano and which is eyed to be passed before the year ends, seeks to prevent vehicular road crashes caused by human error.
Sembrano said there is a need to enact the ordinance to protect motorists, passengers and pedestrians.
The measure also mandates all riders or passengers to carry with them backpacks that have a reflector or a visible material big enough to be seen from a distance.
High visibility reflectorized vest is a personal protective equipment worn by a rider and a passenger to make them more noticeable, especially in foggy weather, while traveling on the road.
Patricio Evangelista of United Metro Baguio Benguet Transport Operators and Drivers Federation raised the idea during a public consultation in October, saying high visibility vests should be worn during inclement weather when traversing city roads.
Roberto Aquino Macagba, founder of Brotherhood of Riders Advocating Discipline Equity Respect and Safety (Braders) and governor of Cordillera Motorcycle Riders Federation Incorporated, said that even before the crafting of the ordinance, members of the group have been using vests even during daytime while traveling inside and outside the summer capital.
"It started as a part of our uniform, like a banner for the group. At that time, issues over safety and visibility were not yet a concern,” he explained.
When concerns for the visibility and safety of the rider grew, Macagba said he and his group already had vests. “From different safety riding seminars, we learned the true essence of wearing the vest and its importance which is, it adds visibility to the rider especially at night or even at a foggy place. This is also one deterrent to the (worn out excuse of some drivers that they did not see us)," he added.
At present, the group has 1,200 members.
Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) traffic management head Police Major Oliver Panabang said the measure would be a great help considering the situation in the city. He said the reflectorized vests would allow drivers to notice motorcyclists during zero visibility.
"We will also follow the existing ordinance of San Fernando, La Union that all motorcycle riders should wear a reflectorized vest while traveling and on board the motorcycle. As long as it is reflectorized, that can be easily seen and spotted by other motorists," he added.
Benguet province also passed this year a law on the mandatory use of reflectorized vest to reduce cases of road crashes involving riders and motorists.
Provincial Board Member Fernando Balaodan said all motorists must wear the reflective vest when traveling around the province especially when visibility is poor.
Vulnerable road users
"Road transport injuries continue to be the leading cause of death among young and old people. The province of Benguet recognizes the need for policy action to reduce motorcycle, tricycle, bicycle accidents that resulted in physical injuries and even death," Balaodan said.
Data from the World Health Organization in 2018 showed that motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users along with pedestrians, and they contribute more than half of all road traffic deaths.
Francis Almora, Land Transportation Office-Cordillera director, said the agency will support anything that would help secure the motorists.
Almora said that even before the measure was proposed, riders would wear high visibility vest with the logo of the motorcycle club.
"It enhances visibility of the rider. This will give ample warning time for other motorists to react in case the rider would slip, when the road is slippery and that would give ample time for other motorists to react safely. It is really useful," Almora said.
This story, first published in SunStar Baguio, was produced under the Road Safety Journalism Fellowship carried out by VERA Files and the World Health Organization under the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety.