'Can I use Waze, dashcams?' Your guide to the anti-distracted driving law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — The nationwide implementation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act has left motorists with lots of questions, especially on the use of traffic navigation apps and dashcams.

The Anti-Distracted Driving Act hopes to prevent road crashes caused by motorists distracted by tinkering with their gadgets. It prohibits the use of gadgets while driving — in other words, you cannot talk on the phone, text, play games, watch movies, read e-books, and surf the web while driving.

Public and private vehicles are covered, including bicycles, motorcycles, pedicabs, kuligligs (small farm tractors), habal-habals (motorcyle taxis), even "wagons, carriages, carts, sledges, and chariots whether animal- or human-powered." 

Here are the answers to the most-asked questions on the law that will take effect on Thursday (May 18).

Q: Can I use my smartphone to navigate Waze?

Land Transportation Office (LTO) Chief Ed Galvante said the use of traffic and navigation apps, such as Waze and Google Maps, are allowed as long as motorists set the destination before driving.

If the driver has to set another destination, they should pull over and reset the app.

"Ang reminder lang sa kanila, kung kailangan gamitin ang gadget ninyo, tumabi kayo. Hindi kayo naka-hambalang sa trapiko," Galvante said.

He added motorists should use a speaker instead of checking the smartphone or tablet screen for directions.

Q: Can I use a cellphone mount?

Yes, but it should not obstruct the driver's view. As seen in the photo below, place the gadget holder near the gauges or center console, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said.

car-cellphone-gps-device-holder-CNNPH.jpg  

Q: How about the use of dashcams?

The use of dashcams are allowed, but they must be placed behind the rear view mirror so it does not obstruct the driver's view.

A dashcam can be helpful during road crashes or any incidents as it continuously records the view through a car's windshield.

Q: I'm at a red light. Can I now use my gadgets?

No.

Q: Are there any exemptions?

Motorists can use their gadgets if they need to call authorities in case of emergencies, such as crime incidents, accidents, bomb or terror threats, fire or explosion, or in case of immediate medical attention or issues with personal safety.

We repeat, only calls to the authorities are allowed, as per DOTr.

Q: Can I use hands-free devices?

Yes, but earphones and microphones can only be used when drivers are making or receiving calls. Using earphones to listen to music is prohibited, so use a speaker instead.

Q: My car is heavily tinted. How will they know?

DOTr said its high-definition cameras can monitor light coming from devices inside tinted cars.

"The law will also be strictly enforced by enforcers on the ground who were well-trained to determine from the movement of the vehicle whether or not a driver commits distracted driving," it added. 

Q: Who can apprehend violators?

The DOTr and LTO are the lead implementing agencies. Members of the police, MMDA, and local government units can also be asked to carry out enforcement duties.

Q: But I did not violate the law. Can I contest?

LTO Chief Galvante said violators can contest the citation during the hearing at the LTO but the traffic enforcer will still issue a violation ticket if they think you violated one of the provisions.

Q: What's the penalty?

Violators will get a P5,000 fine for the first offense. A P10,000 fine for the second offense. A P15,000 fine and a 3-month driver's license suspension for the third offense. P20,000 fine and a revoked driver's license for the fourth offense.

CNN Philippines Isabella Montano, VJ Bacungan contributed to this report.