Last May, the Department of Transportation allowed the trial operation of Angkas, a motorcycle-hailing platform. The trial period will start this June and will be applicable for six months.
The six-month test period aims to monitor the estimated 27,000 Angkas drivers and to assess the level of safety offered by motorcycle taxis, the drivers’ discipline and the overall experience of passengers.
It has been said that Angkas violates Republic Act 4136 or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code. The law only classifies motorcycles as private vehicles. Hence, motorcycles cannot be for hire. However, Angkas was suspended primarily by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board due to safety concerns and not because it was illegal.
How safe are motorcycles
What is safety in the first place? How should we qualify it? Google defines ‘safety’ as “the condition of being protected from or unlikely to cause danger, risk, or injury.”
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority reported that motorcycle accidents increased by 21 percent in 2018. While fatal motorcycle crashes dropped by 13.2 percent, non-fatal injuries increased by 21% compared to data from 2017. These numbers are quite alarming and we may start to question the safety of motorcycles. However, in a report by the Philippine News Agency in September 2018, cars recorded the most road crash incident with 110,653 compared to motorcycles with 24,058 incidents.
We generally think that cars are safer than motorcycles because we are “being protected from danger” inside a cage of steel. But the numbers say something different. Meanwhile, in motorcycles, our knees and elbows are only inches away from the next vehicle. The helmet is the only thing that protects us from possible danger, and we have no choice but to entrust our lives to a complete stranger, in the case of Angkas.
How unsafe are motorcycles
The World Health Organization (WHO) Philippines also reported in 2018 that 53% of deaths from accidents in Philippine roads were riders or passengers of two- and three-wheeled vehicles, which include motorcycles. From these, 90% were not wearing helmets. According to WHO Philippines, helmets can reduce the risk of death by 40% and severe injury by 70%.
Aside from road accidents, motorcycles are also negatively seen in recent years because of its involvement in crimes committed by Motorcycle Riding Suspects (MRS) or more commonly known as riding-in-tandem. Although the National Capital Region Police Office has announced that MRS-related crimes have dropped by 53% in 2018, Philippine National Police records obtained by Rappler in mid-2018 showed an average of four people being killed by MRS.
The overall safety of Angkas
Angkas has been dubbed as the solution to Metro Manila and Cebu’s traffic problem. It’s the faster and cheaper alternative to taxis and ride-sharing platform Grab. Similar to Grab, Angkas riders undergo training on road safety, professionalism and customer service, which includes how to respect female passengers. Prior to the test run, Angkas is also in the process of re-training all its riders.
Aside from providing helmet and face mask for its passengers, Angkas will now provide reflectorized vests with straps where passengers can hold on to. The speed limit is now limited to 60 kph and more road safety rules for riders is being implemented.
If riders have an extended riding experience and are properly trained, Angkas is safe. If Angkas will provide personal accident insurance for both riders and passengers, then it will be much more so.
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