BACK TO SCHOOL, SAFELY
La Salle Greenhills, Safe-T-Ryders aim to improve road safetyBy Jason K. Ang
Philippine Daily Inquirer
As summer 2012 rolls to a close, parents and teachers are once again bracing themselves for the return to school. For motorists, back to school means back to heavy traffic, usually crawling to a standstill in the many school-area streets around the city. It also means higher risks of traffic accidents near school areas.
To help smoothen traffic and reduce the probability of accidents, one of Metro Manila’s larger educational institutions, La Salle Greenhills, recently held a safety seminar targeted toward its school-bus drivers as well as family drivers and parent drivers. The seminar was conducted by Safe-T-Ryders Training Center, an organization founded to educate motorists on road safety.
In what may be the first of several programs geared toward schools, the La Salle Greenhills initiative focused on improving its school bus drivers’ knowledge and application of road safety regulations. The Parents Association of La Salle, under its president Cindy Banaria and information chairperson Fe Rizo, held the seminar consisting of a specially designed two-hour module. More than 80 attendees were reoriented on defensive driving and other safety measures by speakers such as former Land Transportation Office/Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board chairman Alberto Suansing. Suansing is now executive director of the Philippine Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP).
The seminar centered on the following topics:
To counteract the common Philippine trait of driving in a take-no-quarters offensive style, the concerned motorists were re-oriented to adopt a defensive driving attitude. Lack of training and prolonged interaction with unruly public utility drivers were cited as main reasons for lapsing into an offensive driving style. Attendees were reminded also on the basic rules of the road and the negative consequences of disobeying these rules.
Traffic rules, roads signs and markings
It wouldn’t be farfetched that many Filipino drivers will have trouble identifying road signs and markings, and are ignorant of basic traffic rules. The seminar acted as a refresher course to remind the concerned drivers of basic road rules and to identify the relevant road signs.
Not “whoever has the steering wheel rules,” which is how many Filipino drivers behave, but the correct instances of giving way and taking one’s turn when at an intersection. As most collisions occur at intersections, the seminar focused on when and how to properly cross an intersection, particularly when there is no traffic signal or enforcer around.
It’s appropriate to know how one’s vehicle behaves before an emergency situation. Drivers were educated on the simple laws of physics behind vehicle handling. A vehicle loaded with passengers takes longer to brake to a full stop, for instance, compared with the vehicle with only the driver on board.
Driving and intoxication
Safe-T-Ryder instructors discussed the negative effects of alcohol and other intoxicating substances on driver reaction and judgment.
Duties and responsibilities of school service operators
Alberto Suansing of the PGRSP reviewed the memo circulars of the LTFRB regarding school shuttle service operators.
According to Safe-T-Ryders founder Arnel Doria: “On a daily basis, we entrust our children to the care of drivers, whether they are taking the school bus or using the family car. Through these types of road safety seminars, we are taking that extra step to keep our children safe as they travel to and from school.”
Cindy Banaria of Parents Association of La Salle said: “The teaching approach (of the seminar) was very practical and close to real life. It is indeed a change of mindset for the participants especially for the drivers. We felt that we gave the drivers and operators a big favor and more so for the parents of the children that they drive for.”
Safe-T-Ryders founder Doria, a respected marketing executive, played a major role in establishing Honda as a leading car brand in the Philippines. He was also instrumental in setting up the country’s first integrated vehicle training center, the Honda Safety Driving Center. Safe-T-Ryders is manned by Julius Ballesteros, a Technical Education and Skills Development Authority-certified instructor who has just returned from an overseas stint as a safety driving instructor of a large Saudi Arabian company. He is assisted by Sulfikar Guiabel, an experienced LTO-accredited driving instructor.
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