IF plans will materialize, the Philippine National Police Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) headed by Chief Superintendent Arnel B. Escobal will be creating an HPG Road Crash Investigation Unit which will determine the real cause of deadly road crashes in the country and make the real guilty parties, not only the driver liable for the offense.
Escobal said he has proposed to the PNP leadership the establishment of their own Road Crash Investigation Unit which will be manned by engineers who have the technical expertise to establish the veracity of claims being made by drivers being involved in road accidents which yearly kill or maim thousands of drivers, passengers and even innocent civilians.
The lawyer-member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Hinirang’ Class of 1987 said that if he could have his way, he wants a group of licensed engineers to be assigned to the PNP-HPG to form the nucleus of their Road Crash Investigation Unit which will conduct an honest-to-goodness probe of deadly road crashes and find out who is really at fault.
He explained that in most cases, drivers of wayward buses, jeepneys and other public utility vehicles claim they lost their brakes or had mechanical trouble while negotiating a slippery highway causing them to bump other vehicles and leaving scores of dead and wounded.
“Lost brakes, mechanical failure, these are the two most common excuses we usually hear each time there is a major road accident in the country. However, our road crash engineers will ultimately determine if the vehicle involved really lost its brakes or suffered mechanical trouble,” he said.
Official PNP-HPG records showed that in 2016, a total of 32,269 road accidents took place in the country resulting in the death of 2,144 persons and injuries to nearly 16,000 others.
Of these incidents, 2,982 involved buses, 3,535 involved trucks, 20,064 involved automobiles, 2,810 involved jeeps, 4,100 involved tricycles, 11,744 involved motorcycles and 696 involved other vehicles.
From January to August this year alone, a total of 2,131 traffic accidents have been recorded by the PNP-HPG, Those accidents killed 1,092 people and wounded 12,093 others. Of the 2,131 road accidents recorded during the first eight months of the year, 736 involved buses, 3,013 involved trucks, 1,682 involved jeeps; and 2,947 involved tricycles.
The causes of these accidents were either human factor due to bad overtaking, bad turning, over-speeding, self-accident, drunk driving, using cellular phone while driving, overloading and hit-and-run or mechanical defects and road condition.
Escobal said that with the help of road crash safety engineers, they will also be able to establish if the vehicle involved figured in a deadly accident due to poor maintenance -- either due to worn tires, lack of regular engine checkup and other matters which in the first place should be taken cared of by the operators of public utility transport.
“Let’s say a bus or a jeep got involved in a major road accident. If the driver tells authorities he lost his brakes, we will see thru investigation of our experts. If the brakes are working, we will see if the driver lost control of the vehicle due to over speeding or because the engine is not functioning well due to poor maintenance or lack of it, or is it because of old worn tires which in the first place should be regularly replaced by the operators,” he explained.