Thursday, May 26, 2011

Commonwealth Avenue fronting U.P. Diliman: A Killer Highway with a Killer u-turn slot

MANILA, Philippines - Ten persons were injured in a collision involving a jeepney and a van yesterday morning along Commonwealth Avenue, at the same spot where journalist Lourdes “Chit” Estella-Simbulan was killed in another accident two weeks ago."

"Traffic investigator Allan Paul Florendo said the collision happened at around 5:20 a.m. at the U-turn slot just in front of Gate 3 of the UP Ayala Techno Hub in Quezon City."

Read the rest here

The Philippine STAR article illustrates that the Gate 3 U-turn slot has become a death trap -not just for the late U.P. Diliman College of Mass Communication Professor Lourdes “Chit” Estella-Simbulan but for others as well. Two days ago, another vehicular accident on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City involving a jeepney and a van in front of UP Ayala Techno Hub left 10 persons injured. In fact, along the entire stretch of Commonwealth Avenue, dozens of accidents occur everyday, as cars race down it at breakneck speed.

The Diliman Diary has driven down the stretch of University Avenue, and also taken the Philcoa-bound jeepney (from U.P. Diliman) plying the same route to make a hazardous right turn along Commonwealth Avenue, braving oncoming traffic hurtling down at breakneck speeds and make a perilous left turn to reach the U-turn slot. Out of sheer necessity, another hair-raising drive down Commonwealth Avenue at what amounts to an acute right angle is needed in order to reach the proximity of Gate 3 of  UP Ayala Techno Hub which converges with the general area where speeding buses approach their docking stations in order to pick up passengers. It is really a recipe for disaster.

A U.P. Diliman undergraduate research study entitled, "Analysis of Accidents in U-Turn Slots" was made in 2006 by two B.S. Civil Engineering students Gil Alexander M. Dela Vega and Ramon S. Magno, Jr. who were advised by Dr. Ricardo G. Sigua of the U.P. Diliman College of Engineering. The study has been uploaded on the National Center for Transportation Studies website.

The study found out that the top ten critical U-turn slots according to frequency of accidents were: Katipunan Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue (fronting St. Peter Church), Commonwealth Avenue (fronting Paskong Pasiklab), EDSA, Commonwealth Avenue (fronting COA), Mindanao Avenue (Road 20), Quezon Avenue (U-trun slot # 6), IBP Road, Commonwealth Avenue (fronting Metro KTV) and E. Rodriguez Avenue (fronting BMW). Of the top ten, three were along Commonwealth Avenue, the study found.

Compared to other cities, the study found that Quezon City has relatively higher percentages of accidents compared to other cities because of the relatively higher number of U-turn slots operational in Quezon City. However, it is also true that Quezon City has the largest number of accidents that occurred in all junction types, making the ratio of U-turn slot accidents relatively smaller.

The Diliman Diary attempted to contact the study's authors for further comments, but they did not respond in time for the publication of this dispatch.

The study assumes that the majority of injuries occuring in U-turn slots are primarily serious. The study estimates that PhP 7.5 billion a year is lost throughout Metro Manila due to opportunity losses, damage to property, loss of life, injuries, loss of resources, etecetra.

The study also pointed out that the U-turn slot at Katipunan Avenue fronting Ateneo de Manila University is accessed by motorists in the south bound lane going to Balara. In this case, cars are often involved in accidents, and "this can be attributed to the location of three major schools, the Ateneo de Manila University, Miriam College, and the University of the Philippines Diliman, which stand as large communities. Also, this may be credited to the limited volume of public utility vehicles (PUVs) passing through the road section."

The study found that angle impact represent the most common types of accidents, for the obvious reason that U-turns follow curved paths, "entailing a rather random positioning of impact between two vehicles, or as expected from following a road curvature."

The researchers concluded, in part, that traffic safety was not given any attention before the implementation of the U-turn project by the Metro Manila Development Authority. "The MMDA did not do any detailed traffic engineering study before implementing such risky project," the study said.

The study also concluded that accidents occurred in 76% of the total number of U-turn slots in Metro Manila and also says that driver behavior patterns are critical elements in accidents. The study said that further studies are needed in order to establish driver behavior patterns in the realm of U-turn slots along major roads.

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