Thursday, October 14, 2010

80% of road accidents in the country are caused by human error

The popular adage goes basta driver, sweet lover; but with the growing number of road accidents reported, should there be a move to change this to basta driver, accident lover?

Statistics from the PNP-Highway Patrol Group revealed that there were over 20,008 road accidents reported in 2009[1]—this means that there are around 50 road accidents that occur in the Philippines on a daily basis. As we speak, 2 vehicles have probably gotten into an accident during the past hour.

With 78% of total daily person trips[2] depending on buses, jeepneys taxis, tricycles, trains and padyaks, it’s no exaggeration to say that a large portion of the Philippines would literally stop if public transport were to halt their operations.

And in the same way that millions of people rely on public transport to bring them to school, work or to their favorite pasyalan, these very same people entrust their very lives to the manongs, kuyas and bossing drivers that control these modes of transport.

“ We may think nothing of riding public utility vehicles to work or to school, but it’s actually an act of trust,” says  Eros Zuniga, National President of Safety Organization of the Philippines Inc. (SOPI). “It’s trusting the drivers to get us to our destinations on time; it’s trusting them to have checked and fine-tuned their vehicles; it’s trusting them to follow road signs-- it’s trusting them with our lives.”

And this element of trust takes on more importance in light of DOTC data, which shows that that 80% of road accidents in the country are caused by human error.[3]

Taking the wrong turn with human error
Tama o Mali? We’re often asked this question during tests or exercises—but when and how is ‘mali’ seen in the context of human error?

Human error is defined as the imbalance between what the situation requires, what the situation intends and what a person does.

Human error happens when people:
-       Do the wrong thing for a given situation (i.e., violating traffic rules)
-       Fail to do anything when action is required (i.e., forgetting to have a spare tire)
-       Plan to do the right thing but with the wrong outcome (i.e., making an accidental wrong turn) [4]

Human error wouldn’t matter that much if all it caused were traffic roadblocks in EDSA, but as we all know, the cost of human error is much more than this. Based on DOTC[5] estimates, road accidents may cost the Philippines around Php 235 billion or a 2.8 percent share in the country’s GDP—millions that could have otherwise gone to building schools, hospitals, or other, similarly crucial government projects. And that’s just the economic cost. The Asian Development Bank adds to this by saying that a fatal accident can lead to “the loss of productive life of the victim; pain, grief and suffering of loved ones.” [6]

With the realization of how the element of human error played a big role in the day-to-day lives of Filipinos, the public-private coalition Ingat Pilipinas was formed.

Composed of the PNP-HPG (Highway Patrol Group), MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority), the Department of Labor and Employment and its sub-agencies the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Center (OSHC), from the public sector and SOPI (Safety Organization of the Philippines) and leading headache relief brand, Biogesic, from the private sector, Ingat Pilipinas is working to reinforce the values of safety consciousness and effectiveness among Filipinos and in the country as a whole.

Basta Driver, Safety Lover
Ingat Pilipinas recognizes that human error, and how it manifests on the road, is a big problem— with different facets and different stakeholders who need to start working on them.

Taking inspiration from the popular Biogesic tagline “Ingat,” Ingat Pilipinas believes that at the heart of human error is a disregard for safety, which is why raising awareness, ensuring personal commitment, and rolling out programs on safety are integral pillars of the advocacy.  “It’s a fact that 80 percent of accidents are caused by human error, but we shouldn’t forget that this also means that 80% of all accidents could have been, could be, and should be prevented. Kailangan lang talaga ng ibayong pag-iingat,” says Joey Romana of Biogesic.

With this, the first phase of Ingat Pilipinas will be focused on improving road safety in the public transportation sector.

Simultaneous with these projects, Ingat Pilipinas will also be rallying more organizations and individuals to join their cause for a safer and more effective Philippines. With this everyone is encouraged to sign up and be counted in the online portal of Ingat Pilipinas,

With all these efforts, the proponents of Ingat Pilipinas are working to gather at least 1,000 public utility drivers and riders to commit to a safer and more effective Philippines during the Ingat Pledge event as a strong show of commitment to a safer and more effective Philippines. 

“Human error is inevitable, but if other people’s lives are on the line, there is no room for error,” says SOPI.  With a “safer and more effective Philippines” in mind, more private companies and government offices are expected to join the coalition.

“It’s time that we go beyond saying “Ingat,” it’s time we work together and actually do something to make our roads, workplaces, and eventually even the whole country itself, safer and more effective—starting with ourselves. Our decision to be safety-conscious can make a big difference,” say the coalition members of Ingat Pilipinas.

To find out which companies and individuals have taken the challenge for a safer and more effective Philippines, and if you want to be part of the Biggest Public Pledge event on November 27, Saturday, at SM Mall of Asia, log on to

 Other Sources:
1.      Klima: Climate Change Center, “Land Transport Conditions Existing Modes (Public),”
2., “DoTC Justifies Move Increasing Traffic Fines,”
3.      Human Error Analysis, “The Elusiveness of “Human Error,”
4.      Discovery Health, “Headaches Don’t Have To Rule Your Life,”
5.      Reliability Center Inc., “Root Cause Analysis-PROACT RCA Software Reliability Center, Inc.,”

[1] Philippine National Police- Highway Patrol Group, Traffic Accident Statistics, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
[2] World Bank, 2000, Study on Urban Transport Development Final Report.
[3] Department of Transportation and Communications, Police Reported Accidents, 2008.
[4]  Safety Agency for Healthcare (OHSAH), 2006.
[5] Department of Transport and Communications, Police Reported Accidents, 2008.
[6] Asian Development Bank, Road Safety Guidelines for the Asia and Pacific Region, Manila, 1996
[7] Metro Manila Urban Transport Improvement Project
[8] Metro Manila Jeepney Driver Research, 2010
[9] Metro Manila Jeepney Driver Research, 2010
[10] Metro Manila Jeepney Driver Research, 2010

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