Text by Vinni Gandia and Geraldine Pearl Santos
The majority of injured victims in UP Diliman road incidents were pedestrians, with one death recorded throughout January to August 2018, based on the reports of the UP Diliman Police (UPDP). Out of 21 road injury cases in 2018, 12 involved people crossing the street.
Pedestrian-related road injuries have increased in recent years, accumulating 9 out of 24 total cases (37.5%) in 2016, and 24 out of 44 (54.54%) in 2017.
The number of road incidents from January to August this year is also higher compared to the same period in previous years. In 2018, a total of 101 road incidents were recorded, an increase compared to the 82 cases in January to August 2016, and the 91 cases in January to August 2017.
JP Laurel Street and Magsaysay Avenue, densely populated with student tenants and commuters, as well as jeepneys and motorcycles often passing through, had the most road incidents in 2018. Three residence halls, Molave, Yakal and Ipil, are located along Magsaysay Avenue, while the Acacia and Ilang-Ilang dormitories are situated along JP Laurel Street.
In both 2016 and 2017, C.P. Garcia Ave., University Ave., and Osmeña Ave. were common areas prone to road incidents. Motorists pass by these roads when entering and exiting the campus to major highways and avenues.
Improving road safety
In order to resolve issues on campus road safety, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs (OVCCA) has provided pamphlets to car sticker applicants. These brochures enumerate the road rules in UP Diliman, such as the maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour (kph) as prescribed by the Land Transportation and Traffic Code (RA 4136), and the prohibition on parking along the Academic Oval.
Numerous tracks across the campus lack road signs, most notably in the busiest streets, such as JP Laurel St., which do not even have speed limit signs.
The lack of road signs and traffic lights along JP Laurel St., as well as other roads across the campus, may have contributed to the frequency of road incidents, according to Maricel Lourdes Rodriguez, Head Manager of Acacia Residence Hall.
Officer-in-Charge Police-Captain Ruben Villaluna assured that vital measures are being taken, such as the increase in road signs and the deployment of UPDP and Special Services Brigade (SSB) officers to monitor roads, especially during rush hour.
Amidst the insufficient number of road signs and traffic lights, Rodriguez also expressed how the removal of most speed humps after road construction projects was unjustified since they helped slow down traffic.
“Imagine mo rin, kada 10 meters, nasa humps ka eh, so hindi ka talaga pwedeng umarangkada,” Rodriguez added.
Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs Dr. Jose Ernie C. Lope addressed the concern on the lack of speed humps. “They will be restored, and the position of such will be restored. Ongoing pa kasi yung ibang road constructions kaya di pa nalalagay, dapat i-fast track yung paglagay ng humps ng Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),” Lope said.
However, it must be noted that all current road projects in the campus are solely funded and implemented by DPWH, according to Lope.
The UP Diliman Road Network Improvement of the DPWH started on February 2017. It involves the repair of 12 roads in the campus, namely Ylanan, Roces, Laurel, Archery, R.P. De Guzman, E. Jacinto, E. De Los Santos, Pardo De Tavera, Africa, Quirino Ma. Guerrero, and the Rotunda.
He added that OVCCA only heads an overseeing transport committee, which also includes the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, Chief Security Office, Office of the Campus Architect, and National Center for Transportation Studies.
For now, the committee is awaiting the budget approval from the Office of the Chancellor for additional road signs in UPD.
One among many
Only recently, a 60-year-old housewife was killed by a reversing SUV as she was crossing JP Laurel St. in August 9, between the former Shopping Center and Acacia Residence Hall.
According to the official UPDP report, the driver of the Mitsubishi Pajero was a 71-year-old who attempted to park by the dormitory, but accidently struck the victim. Although a UP Health Service ambulance immediately took her to their infirmary, attempts at revival were futile.
“Magpapa-laminate sana siya ng kanyang bagong senior citizen ID kaya tumawid agad siya pagkalabas ng jeep; hindi pa sa pedestrian lane,” said Villaluna.
The driver and the case were turned over to the Quezon City Police Department at Camp Karingal. The family of the victim does not plan to file any complaints, but the suspect could still face charges of reckless imprudence resulting to homicide.
Villaluna said the incident could not have been prevented by any road safety measures, since it was the result of a reversing vehicle, rather than a head-on collision.
However, road traffic injuries should not be viewed as accidents, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Road traffic injuries can be prevented. Governments need to take action to address road safety in a holistic manner,” according to WHO’s February 2018 report on road safety.