Lawmaker wants outright dismissal of drivers tested positive of illegal drugs

August 31, 2010 11:20 am 

MANILA, Aug. 30 – With the rising incidence of road tragedies, a lawmaker has called for the outright dismissal of bus drivers tested positive for illegal drugs and the scrapping of the "second chance policy" that is given by the Labor department to drivers tested positive for illegal drugs.

"It should be one-positive-test-and-you-are-out policy. Drivers have a huge responsibility to the riding public. Once drivers are tested positive for illegal drug use, public utility operators should not be forced to adopt a second-chance policy, or a policy of leniency," said Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.

Evardone also recommended that all reckless drivers that figure in major accidents be stripped of their drivers licenses by the Land Transport Office (LTO) "so they cannot transfer from one bus firm to another and continue plying their deadly trade."

"The rules toward reckless drivers and drivers who take illegal drugs tilt heavily in their favor," he said.

He also noted that while doctors who are found guilty of malpractice are usually stripped of their licenses to practice medicine, the rules are very lax toward reckless and irresponsible public utility vehicle drivers.

Evardone said that reckless drivers and drivers high on illegal drugs are often the reasons behind major bus accidents.

"While we want to blame the bus companies for irresponsible behavior, the truth is one major accident is enough to ruin a company. And we have many such stories, bus companies undone by just one major accident. So it is to their best interest to have zero accidents," he said.

The Eastern Samar solon also called for a private sector-government program for the training and retraining of drivers, possibly under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the major bus associations across the country.

The government has already adopted stringent rules toward junk buses and rolling coffins and it is on the drivers training and retraining side that should be given focus, he noted.

"Market forces dictate the natural phase out of junk and old buses. You cannot compete in the bus industry now without re-fleeting and modernization of buses. The void that should be filled up by the government is in the area of training," said Evardone, who is steadily building up a legislative work that focuses on consumer concerns. (PNA)



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