MVIS is now or never
In 2015, the Department of Transportation and Communication (precursor to the DOTr) released some interesting figures from a study done between 2011 to 2014: 13 million licenses issued and 7,463,393 vehicles registered. That figure has since increased, as 2015, 2016 and 2017 exhibited massive increases in 4-wheeled vehicle sales and motorcycle sales.
Today, due to the sheer number of vehicles on the road, coupled with the massive influx of new, inexperienced drivers, there are 299 accidents that happen daily, or 109,135 accidents annually, possibly more as many accidents happen that go unreported and undocumented. Now here is where things get more interesting:
between 12%-16% of all road crashes were caused by trucks. That’s 13,096 accidents caused by trucks each year in the period covered by the study, which as stated, has probably grown due to more vehicles now present on the road. While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact relationship between the two, the fact remains. Any accident involving trucks will cause far more harm, far more damage, and potentially more deaths.
11% of all road crash fatalities were caused by defective vehicles. There were 10,015 deaths recorded in 2015 due to vehicular accidents, with 1,502 deaths caused by defective vehicles that figured in the accident.
Let’s focus on the 12,000 or so accidents caused by defective machines in each year. All vehicles, cars, trucks and buses alike, are covered in this statistic. But which type of vehicle has the potential to cause the most damage? Obviously, it is the trucks and buses due to their sheer size and weight. For comparison’s sake, a typical car, loaded with fuel and five passengers will weigh anywhere from 1,150kg to around 2,400kg for a loaded 7-seat SUV. In comparison, an 18-wheeler articulated truck will weigh around 41,000-42,000 kilograms, the maximum allowed in our Philippine roads according to the Department of Public Works and Highways. Anything heavier, and it will damage our roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. That’s at least 17 times heavier than a typical large private vehicle.
In terms of dimensions, a typical 7-seat SUV will have a length of 4.8 meters and a width of 1.85 meters. An 18-wheeler truck can have a total length of 24 meters, five times the length, and a width of 2.6 meters, an increase of almost a full meter or roughly 30% wider. And if we compare a modern small car, like a Toyota Wigo or Mitsubishi Mirage, the difference only gets worse.
Now imagine both these three types of vehicles (an 18-wheeler, a small subcompact and a 7-seat SUV) travelling at the highway prescribed minimum of 60km/h and both figure in an accident. Physics teaches us that Force, expressed in Newtons, is equal to Mass (expressed in KG) multiplied by
acceleration (in meters per
second). The Toyota Wigo, assuming its weight is 1,150kg,
fully loaded, travelling at 60km/h will have a force upon impact equal to 19,607.1 Newtons, whereas a Montero Sport will have a force upon impact equal to 40,000 Newtons, and finally your fully laden 18-wheeler has a force upon impact of 700,014 Newtons. The truck will have 17 times more force upon impact compared to a Montero Sport, and a whooping 35 times more force upon impact than a Toyota Wigo.
Many of the recent gruesome truck and bus accidents were caused by these behemoths suddenly losing their brakes, the single most common excuse / reason given by drivers of these vehicles. Next would be bald, worn tread-less tires. Why were these vehicles ever allowed on the road in the first place? Now imagine the amount of force these vehicles are carrying, should they suddenly cause a collision or accident?
In the government’s eyes, as long as you pay your LTO registration and TPL insurance, you can use your vehicle on the road. Interestingly, government has seen fit previously to apprehend new private motor vehicles with admittedly questionable modifications. But they turn a blind eye to trucks and buses that are old, rolling death traps, accidents waiting to happen? A cynical colleague of mine said that dubious traffic enforcers see money to be extorted from drivers of these shiny new private vehicles, while see nothing but excuses, apologies and favors from drivers of these old dilapidated trucks and buses. But we all need to level up.
Thanks to social media, the recent spate of vehicular accidents featuring old, dilapidated trucks and other large vehicles causing havoc on the road has been making the rounds of late. The question is, why are we not acting on it?
In every developed country worldwide, all vehicles including private, commercial and public utility undergo extensive road worthiness examination and certification to see if these are fit to ply our roads. Everything is checked, from exhaust emissions, headlight brightness, angle and focal range, brake lights, turn signal indicators, wiper efficiency, tire tread depth to ensure safe road-holding and traction during wet weather driving, wheel alignment to ensure the vehicle is easy to control and even ride height, as vehicles too low can bottom their suspension out, loose control and careen off the road, or tall lifted vehicles which are inherently more dangerous during emergency lane-changing maneuvers. Japan has their Shaken, the UK has their MOT, and the United States has their DMV and smog stations to check vehicle roadworthiness, exhaust emissions and safety.
Safer and cleaner roads and driving conditions are our long-term goal. But without anyone enforcing safety and emissions standards strictly on vehicles, these goals will remain but a dream. The government needs to start now by implementing the Motor Vehicle Inspection System Program. And they should start on vehicles that can cause the most damage, namely the aforementioned trucks and buses because of the potential damage they can cause. If we can perfect the MVIS system for trucks, buses and PUVs, we make the roads safer, eliminate death traps, reduce harmful exhaust emissions released by these pollution causing vehicles and ultimately, implement the MVIS onto all other types of vehicles, specifically privately owned vehicles.
I just hope we can act on it ASAP. And open up the franchise of the MVIS to a wider variety of parties. The previous administrations tried to implement the MVIS by awarding the master franchise to a sole third party with links to questionable people in power who lacked competence in the field. Let’s hope the current administration does it the right way.
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