The Manila Times

Filed bills show lawmakers are out of touch with reality

AL S. VITANGCOL 3RD Email: FB page:

REP. Midy Cua of the lone district of Quirino province filed House Bill (HB) 7404 on March 2 seeking “to extend the validity of certificates of registration to three (3) years” of all registered motor vehicles. On the same date, Sen. Mark Villar filed Senate Bill (SB) 1959 “mandating the installation of timers in traffic lights and pedestrian lights” in all urban and rural areas of the country.

What do these two bills and lawmakers have in common? The bills filed show that these lawmakers are out of touch with the realities on the ground pertaining to the subjects of these bills.

Intelligent traffic lights

The present problematic traffic situation that Metro Manila and most of urban areas have been experiencing cannot be helped by “fixed timed” traffic lights. The solution lies in the use of “intelligent” traffic lights.

Fixed timed traffic lights are traffic signal systems that operate on a fixed schedule or cycle, with each signal displaying for a predetermined amount of time before switching to the next signal in the cycle. While fixed timed traffic lights have been a reliable and consistent method of managing traffic flow for many years, they are no longer effective today.

One of the main issues with fixed timed traffic lights is that they do not respond to changing traffic patterns and conditions. For example, if there is a sudden increase in traffic volume on one side of the road or a pedestrian crossing, the traffic light may not be able to adjust its signal timing to accommodate this change in flow. This can lead to congestion, delays and frustration for drivers and pedestrians.

Another problem with fixed timed traffic lights is that they can be inefficient in managing traffic flow. If there are no cars waiting on one side of the road, the signal may still switch to that signal, even if it is not necessary. This can waste time and resources, and may contribute to overall congestion and delays.

Finally, fixed timed traffic lights may be less effective in managing safety concerns such as pedestrian crossings or emergency vehicle access. They may not be able to respond quickly enough to changing safety conditions or may not be programmed to prioritize safety concerns over traffic flow.

On the other hand, intelligent traffic lights, also known as smart traffic lights, are an advanced type of traffic signal system that uses available technology to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion. These traffic lights are equipped with sensors, cameras and other devices that allow them to collect data on traffic patterns, vehicle speeds and pedestrian activity.

Using this data, intelligent traffic lights are able to adjust their signal timings in real time to better manage traffic flow and reduce congestion. For example, if the system detects that there are more vehicles on one side of the road than the other, it may adjust the signal timings to give more time to the side with heavier traffic. Intelligent traffic lights can also be programmed to prioritize certain types of vehicles such as emergency vehicles or public transportation. This can help these vehicles move more quickly and efficiently through congested areas.

In addition to improving traffic flow, intelligent traffic lights can also enhance pedestrian safety by detecting when people are crossing the street and adjusting the signal timings accordingly.

The use of intelligent traffic management systems, which are able to respond to changing traffic patterns and conditions, may offer a more efficient and effective approach to managing traffic flow and improving safety on the roads.

Senator Villar, to make SB 1959 relevant, should have mandated the installation of intelligent traffic lights rather than the installation of timers. As it is, SB 1959 is worthless, and would result in a substantial waste of taxpayers’ money if finally passed into law.

Extending validity of aging vehicles

Regular vehicle registration is a requirement in most countries around the world, including the Philippines, and serves several important purposes — it ensures that a motor vehicle is legally allowed to be driven on public roads; it provides a means of identifying vehicle owners and guaranteeing that they are held responsible for any violations or accidents that occur while driving their vehicle; and confirms that vehicles meet safety and environmental standards.

Extending the validity of an “aging” motor vehicle would defeat the last two purposes of vehicle registration.

The warranty period for new vehicles can vary depending on the manufacturer and the country in which the vehicle is sold. In some countries, the standard warranty period for new vehicles is two to three years, while in others it can be as long as seven years or more. However, many manufacturers have started to offer warranties that are at least five years long. Longer warranties assure customers that the vehicle will meet government safety standards and environmental issues, and be reliable over the long term. This is the main ground as to why the validity of the certificate of registration for new cars was set to three years.

How about older vehicles, meaning those beyond five years old? This is a different story altogether. Aging vehicles should be regularly checked to ensure that vehicles meet safety and environmental standards. Prior to the annual registration process, vehicles must be inspected to ensure that they meet minimum safety standards such as having functioning brakes, lights and signals. They must also be checked for emissions compliance to ensure that they are not contributing to air pollution.

Representative Cua, to make HB 7404 relevant, should have resolved to extend the validity of certificates of registration of brand-new motor vehicles to five years instead and required all other motor vehicles, beyond five years old, to undergo a mandatory rigid vehicle inspection process on an annual basis. By the way, this is what the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (PMVIC) was all about. More about PMVICs next week.

Lawmakers’ failure

The primary role of a lawmaker is to represent the interests of their constituents and to make decisions that benefit the public as a whole. They may do this by introducing, supporting or opposing legislation that addresses various issues affecting their constituents and the wider community.

Indeed, the transport sector’s problems abound. However, the abovementioned filed bills will not solve any of those problems. In fact, they do not represent the interests of the Filipino people and will not benefit the society as a whole.

The filing of the two useless bills accomplished nothing — except that it showed these lawmakers inability to pass meaningful legislation or make a significant impact on the issues affecting their constituents and the country in general.

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The Manila Times