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What does 'line of sight' in the Anti-Distracted Driving law mean?

Ever since it was announced that the Anti-Distracted Driving law will be enforced starting on May 18, there's been a lot of hubbub about how the law will affect drivers and how it will be enforced. Chief among the discussion points is what exactly 'line of sight' entails. As Section 5 of Republic Act No. 10913 states: 

"The operation of a mobile communications device is not considered to be distracted driving if done using the aid of a hands-free function or similar device such as, but not limited to, a speaker phone, earphones and microphones or other similar divices which allow a person to make and receive calls without having to hold the mobile communications device: Provided, that the placement of the mobile communications device or the hands-free device does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver." 

Okay, so the first part is pretty clear. The question is, where can you place your dashcam or your phone mount if you're using Waze? We recently attended a briefing held by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) regarding the implementation of the new law. According to officials, line of sight includes your entire windshield and on top of your dashboard, except for the area behind the rear-view mirror. Officials pointed out that behind the rearview mirror is where you can place your dashcam, as you don't need to look at it while driving. 


As for phone mounts, these can be placed either behind (but not on) your steering wheel on the instrument panel, or on the center of your dashboard where the center air-con vents normally sit. The official papers state,"Gadgets with [navigation] applications may be installed in areas that will not obstruct the driver's view."

Take note, however, that you can't take your hands off the wheel to operate these devices. Either set your app before you take off, or pull over in a safe area (i.e. not obstructing traffic) to adjust its settings mid-journey. 

"The idea is 'wag mo sana gamitin ('yung mobile device), pero kapag gagamitin mo, hands-free. The idea is really, dapat hands-free. So bawal mag text, bawal gamitin yung cellphone, bawal mag pindot-pindot, hands-free," DOTr assistant secretary Mark Richmund de Leon told TGP. 

Some additional points about this law that you should note:

* Prohibited acts while driving include, but aren't limited to: making or receiving calls, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages, playing games, watching movies, doing calculations, reading, and browsing the Internet. 

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* This act covers both public and private vehicles. That includes agricultural machines, construction equipment, and other forms of transport like bicycles, habal-habal, and even carts that are either human- or animal-powered if they're on public roads. 

* The only exemptions are if you're making an emergency call to authorities for crimes, accidents, medical needs, or when your personal safety is compromised. 

* Using hands-free functions or earphones is fine, as long as they don't interfere with your line of sight. Drivers can only wear earphones when making or receiving a call, but not to listen to music. 

Remember, enforcement starts tomorrow. Stay safe and hands-free out there.

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PHOTO: Drei Laurel
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