■ Hanna C. Lacsamana
At least 10 vehicular crashes have transpired along roads and streets in Baguio City and nearby areas during the holiday rush.
Almost every day since Dec. 13, private rescue group 911 On-Call has responded to 12 road crashes involving private vehicles including a 10 wheeler-truck that met an accident along Magsaysay Avenue, and another vehicle carrying senior citizens and minors along the Palispis-Aspiras Highway in Taloy Sur, Tuba, Benguet.
Based on the documentation of 911 On-Call head Rafael Valencia, the vehicular mishaps occurred on Dec. 13 along Kisad Road around 2 a.m. involving a Honda CRV that turned turtle; Dec. 14 along Loakan Road 12:30 a.m. where a private vehicle hit the ramps; Dec. 17 at the Trancoville-Sanitary Camp intersection; and Dec. 18 along Salpang Taloy Sur, involving 13 senior citizens, three minors, and one adult between a Ford Ranger and a Fortuner.
On Dec. 23, another incident transpired along Magsaysay Road involving a 10-wheeler truck and L300 with four patients extricated and rushed to the Baguio General Hospital and on Dec. 24 along Magsaysay Road involving a private vehicle and along SLU Bakakeng-Ciudad Grande phase 1 where another private vehicle turned turtle.
On Dec. 26, a case of a car that turned turtle occurred along Camp 7 between 1 and 1:30 a.m. and along Bonifacio St., along Longlong La Trinidad, Benguet, and along South Drive and on Dec. 27 along Purok 3 in Happy Hallow.
Valencia said the accidents involved both residents and visitors. Most incidents, he said, occurred more because of human error rather than mechanical error.
As initial responder, they observed most of the drivers were either intoxicated or driving under the influence of liquor.
The others, in the case of visitors, were driving in the city for the first time and not familiar with the roads, and thus miscalculated maneuvers when navigating tricky or difficult terrains.
Others were not well-oriented with using new or automatic vehicles, were rushing and overtaking vehicles, or were driving too fast while their vehicle was overloaded.
Some of the accidents occurred when the driver’s attention was diverted for trying to reach for their cell phone that fell on the car floor, since they had to momentarily bend to pick it up, therefore losing their attention on the road.
“Others, unfortunately, got involved in the accident due to lack of discipline, so we can say that the accident was self-inflicted because they were not being careful while driving or got intoxicated before driving,” Valencia said.
Some were also not observing speed limit, especially at Kennon Road.
Valencia said 911 On-Call has attended to more vehicular traffic crashes this month compared to last year due to more motorists on the road brought by heavier volume of people going to Baguio City at this time of the year, coupled with more travellers coming up on long weekends.
He advised motorists, especially first-time visitors, to familiarize themselves or take extra caution when navigating unfamiliar terrains to avoid accidents.
“Avoid reaching for your cellphone when driving as this is a common cause of accidents. It won’t get lost, you can pick it up later. Drivers have to be disciplined when driving. Don’t drive while under the influence of liquor. Check your vehicles before travelling. See that it is properly maintained and in good condition,” Valencia said.
The private rescue group, which has been assisting the city in its emergency support services, has stationed a stand-by boom truck and a self-loading tow truck in its new office and operations center at Parkway Residences in Legarda Road since the holiday season started and is among the first responders during emergency situations.