Lapsing into law after former President Benigno Aquino III neither signed nor vetoed it before stepping down on June 30, the Anti-Distracted Driving Law or Republic Act 10913 now prohibits people from using mobile devices while behind the wheel. It’s not just about keeping motorists from texting: It lists the do’s and don’ts regarding gadget use, as well as penalties for those who are caught breaking the law. So before you even get in your car, familiarize yourself with this new road rule:

1. What exactly is “distracted driving?”
According to the law, distracted driving is when a motorist uses his or her mobile device while driving or while temporarily stopped at a red light. Prohibited acts include:

  • reading, creating, and sending SMS, chat updates, and private massages;
  • making and receiving calls;
  • computing, playing games, watching movies or videos, surfing the internet, and reading e-books.

2. What mobile devices are included in the prohibition?
Any handheld electronic device should not be used while driving. This includes mobile phones, phablets, tablets, laptops, computers, video game consoles, calculators, two-way radio receivers, wireless telephones, and pagers, among others.

3. What are penalties?
If you’re caught using your mobile device while driving, then you’ll need to face a hefty monetary fine, plus the possibility of having your license revoked if you’re a repeat offender.

  • Frist offense: A fine of P5,000
  • Second offense: A fine of P10,000
  • Third offense: A fine of P15,000 and a three-month suspension of your driver’s license
  • Fourth offense: A fine of P20,000 and the revocation of your driver’s license

4. What are the exemptions?

The law is not as unreasonably strict as you may think it is. Those who use their mobile devices during emergencies are exempted from the law. Moreover, if you’re using your device’s hands-free function and your phone is positioned in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with your line of sight, then you’re in the clear.

A study from the University of Queensland in Australia has noted that mobile distractions in whatever situation increase the risk of accidents, while another study from the University of Michigan notes that texting while driving has become a unconscious habit of many motorists, which makes them hazards on the streeets. The Anti-Distracted Driving Law tries to curb road dangers, and aims to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe.

Moral of the story? Think twice before whipping out your phone when you’re behind the wheel. No private message or Pokémon is worth your license and your safety.

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