On Railroads and the Strict Philippine Law

Laws are crafted by men to govern men. It’s what creates order in our society. Yet there are times when one would question – how effective or efficient are our laws really?

Lately, with the recent improvements in the PNR (Philippine National Railroad) system, there have been more reports of accidents involving trains and reckless vehicles and people. There’s the accident of an Innova who crossed a railroad even when everyone around him had already stopped to allow a passing train to pass by. There’s the accident involving a drunk man who slept on the tracks and as a result was killed by the passing train. Recently, there’s the accident of an overloaded tricycle who passed by a railroad track despite insistent warning sounds of the train driver. All these accidents resulted to multiple deaths and injuries. And who did the law blame? The train driver.

The Provincial PNR Train

By law, the one who survived the death in a vehicular accident is always the one accused of causing the accident, even when it was the other way around. Pending further investigation, the survivor remains the culprit. I think that in the case of trains, this is utter nonsense! How is a train driver supposed to stop a train from moving in just a split second? It’s not a car where you can simply hit the brakes! And even if you can do that, how is the train driver supposed to know that a vehicle would dare cross his path despite all his dire warnings that he is coming? Lastly, who is stupid enough to even consider railroad tracks an extension of someone’s home let alone a safe place?

I think accidents involving trains, at least here in the country, are 99% the fault of the one who choose to clash with the train head on. What ever happened to the age-old warning of Stop, Look and Listen that we have been taught of as a child. Was this just a childhood warning that as adults we are at liberty to ignore? It’s true that in the Philippines, with the years of inoperation of the PNR system, the concept of safety around railroad tracks has been all but erased from the minds of people. In the province, communities have sprung around railroad tracks and people had used them as innovative means of transportation.

But now that the PNR has been rehabilitated, then the society should start moving on from their previous unsafe practices and should consider alternatives to their current lifestyle. The government needs to recognize this need in society and provide for these people. We aspire to become more like the developed countries in terms of transportation technology. In countries like Japan and Europe, their train systems are way advanced that they can travel far distances with them. Trains after all, when really advanced, allows for really fast travels.

The Rehabilitated PNR (This train services Metro Manila)

I know our country is trying to rehabilitate what was once a prestigious railroad operations to the provinces. It can be done. It is already beginning. But more than just upgrading train cabs and train stations, we also need to educate the people who has found their homes alongside the railroad tracks. These people need to know that although law is at their side, in the end the law will turn against them. They need to realize this and start looking for better alternatives. If they do not and this trend of train accidents due to recklessness of the people around the tracks continue, then we can say goodbye to transportation diversity and improvement.

Stop, Look and Listen (Source: PNR Official Website)

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