Friday, March 15, 2013

You learn something new everyday...

A couple of days ago, I realized that I had been breaking the law for some time already without my knowing it.

As I was on the road on my way to work, a friend gave me a call. It was about some things pertaining to election matters and those were pretty important, so we continued talking as I made my way through Espana and approached the area of Quiapo church. Traffic was so-so, neither bumper-to-bumper nor free-flowing enough to enable motorists to zoom on the road without occasionally hitting the brakes.

As I passed the church, one of the yellow-clad traffic enforcers a few meters ahead seemed to look my way and pointed at me. When the vehicle was within arm's length of the traffic enforcer, he gave the windshield a strong tap and flashed an exasperated expression. I quietly wondered what it was about while still conversing with my friend on the phone. My car is not coded today, so what could that have been about, I silently asked myself.

"Bawal ba makipag-usap sa cellphone habang nag-da-drive?" I asked my friend.

"Oo," he replied.

"Bawal? May law ba?" I countered, stunned by my ignorance.

"Oo, Buhay nag-initiate niyan!" he blurted out, chuckling, obviously amused by my ignorance of the law.

Was I flabbergasted. I knew there was some guideline or maybe a small ordinance or some equally insignificant (legally speaking) thing about refraining from using one's mobile phone while driving, but I was unaware that there was actually a law prohibiting the use of the mobile phone while driving. While part of me had an inkling as to the possible dangers one was exposed to in simultaneously driving and having a conversation on the phone, I in fact thought I was being responsible by refraining from texting while driving.

And I thought I was a responsible citizen *sheepish feeling here*

While I'm grateful for lawmakers having that kind of concern for the lives of the country's citizens (I'm told the same party list formulated and had the law on motorcycle-riders having to wear helmets passed as well), realizing my "you learn something new everyday" discovery led to some momentary contemplation about the assumption that one knows when he really doesn't. It reminded me of the oft-used line "Malinis ang konsensiya ko" or "I will decide based on my own conscience." Malinis nga ang konsensiya mo, pero formed naman ba ito? O deformed? O kaya ill-formed? Misinformed? One's conscience can be a reliable guide for one's judgment and choices if it is formed well -- and based on the truth and not someone's version of the truth. A version that can change according to one's whims or circumstances. I was confident that I was being responsible and could even declare that I was a responsible citizen... but it turns out the knowledge on which my actions were based was sorely deficient.

I'm just thankful that traffic that day wasn't so bad that crawling at snail's pace would've surely enabled the traffic enforcer to apprehend me! Well, what do you know? The very next day, I caught myself making a call again while I was on the wheel! I realized it after I had ended the conversation, and told myself that some things can really be hard habits to break. But it can be done. And since then I have been more vigilant about it, resolute in doing the lawful (and sensible) thing.

I wonder what other laws I've been unwittingly violating...

*Artwork from Creative Loafing Charlotte


WillyJ said...

Driving while talking on the cellphone is reckless driving, so there is a law against it. Technically, if you drive with one hand, that is a violation. However notice that this is unevenly enforced. For example, a jeepney driver always does that - getting fare from passengers while driving with one hand - yet it is not considered a violation by enforcers. Also, ignorance of the law is no excuse. Buti pa nga sa simbahan, when you have invincible ignorance, you are excused, although it is still wrong.

sunnyday said...

You're right -- ignorance is not an excuse. And we don't need a law to prove that using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous and reckless. Common sense na delikado talaga.

I have been wondering the past few days, though, what makes talking on the phone different from talking with a companion who is in the car as well. Kasi talking on the phone tends to be more distracting. It's the way the brain is used, tama ba? Iba kapag nakikipag-usap sa device, at iba kapag yung boses nanggagaling sa parehong place? Kasi even when using earphones talk with someone on the phone, distracting pa rin eh (and against the law). Pero kung naka speakerphone kaya? I've never tried that.

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