Aghast at the increasing incidence of highway accidents, Sen. Loren Legarda yesterday called for higher penalties for reckless driving, especially when it results to death and injuries to persons.
Loren reacted vehemently to the accident along Maharlika Highway in Lucena City when two buses collided, resulting in the death of eight passengers and injuries to many others.
Loren deplored that because of lax traffic law enforcement, many drivers have become reckless and have disregarded traffic rules and regulations.
She also observed that many public utility drivers have taken to using drugs despite regulations banning drug users from driving.
She recounted one instance when a bus did not stop on a pedestrian crossing along EDSA Avenue and hit a young girl accompanied by her mother. The girl's arm was later amputed, with the driver of the bus claiming that he did not see the girl stretching her arm to stop the bus.
Loren noted that many of the traffic accidents are due not only to reckless driving and flagrant violations of traffic rules and regulations but also to the use of drugs by drivers, especially those who drive public utility vehicles.
Other drivers lack proper training and experience, endangering lives and properties, Loren noted.
"It is time that we put a stop to these rampant accidents," said Loren, "by strict and proper enforcement of traffic laws and regulations and adequate training of public utility and private vehicle drivers. Policemen and traffic enforcers who accept bribes should be punished strictly and drummed out of the service."
She also said that the drug testing of public utility drivers should be made regularly at random and should be strictly enforced.
Loren also proposed a review of the penalties provided for reckless driving that result to death and injuries of persons.
She noted that the charges filed are usually for homicide or causing injury through reckless imprudence.
"But if the accident is caused by the use of drugs, shouldn't this be considered an aggravating circumstance, and thus subject to a higher penalty?" she asked.