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Are Motorcycle Barriers Actually Safe and Effective?

Until now, the motorcycle barriers approved by the IATF have not been tested for safety and efficacy.

Different measures have been and are being put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 in the country. Some have developed face shields, eye shields, different kinds and styles of face masks, and other kits that are now being used by many to protect themselves from contracting the deadly virus.

In the public transportation scene, Bohol Governor Arthur Yap has designed a prototype motorcycle barrier made out of clear plastic that can be attached to the motorcycle in between the driver and back rider. (Read: Travel Guidelines: 3 Things You Need to Know) The barrier, designed as a way to lessen contact between the driver and the rider, has been approved by the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Aside from Governor Yap, there are also others who have submitted their designs for barriers and have now been approved by the IATF-TWG. (Read: Will table barriers be the ‘new normal’ in PH restaurants?) Among them is Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Jr. who personally asked a builder to make his idea of a motorcycle barrier come to life.

Despite the IATF’s approval of the motorcycle barriers, many people have expressed their disappointment toward this new system. The barriers, which are now for sale for all motorcycle riders who will have back riders with them, are being questioned by many.

Are motorcycle barriers effective?

First, the public is questioning the efficacy of the said barrier. Many netizens—and even elected officials—are wondering if this barrier has a scientifically proven efficacy, or riders will just be wasting their hard-earned money purchasing ‘useless’ barriers. (Read: 5 Ways to Manage Your Finances Amid COVID-19)

Senator President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said that the task force should do some test runs first before making the barriers publicly available to ensure that it can actually help with controlling the spread of the virus.

The police Highway Patrol Group verifies the IDs of a couple on a motorcycle along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City. Their marriage contract is inserted in a plastic divider positioned between them. (Photo from Boy Santos / Philippine Star)

Who can back ride?

Moreover, the guideline on who can back ride is also being questioned by the public. Based on the regulations by the IATF, only married couples are allowed to back ride. Couples are defined as anyone having the same surname through civil or church weddings, or anyone living together (not necessarily legally married) who have the same home addresses in their individual valid IDs.

This provision has left many wondering why this is the approved guideline when many of those working during the pandemic are not married and are being brought to work by family, friends, or co-workers. (Read: Here’s How You Can Help Jeepney Drivers Affected by the Lockdown)

Are the barriers safe to use?

Lastly, the issue of safety in using the motorcycle barriers is a concern by the public—apart from its efficacy. Since no test runs have been done, the safety of the barriers when used in transport is still not officially ensured.

According to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), however, these barriers pose no concerns in safety, “We do not see this as a possible cause, a possible safety concern. Kailangan lang po talaga maging maingat kasi kahit wala pong physical barrier, meron po talagang nangyayaring aksidente,” said DILG spokesperson Jonathan Malaya.

Since July 10, motorcycle drivers have been allowed to carry back riders, given that they comply to the aforementioned guidelines. However, no safety and efficacy tests have been done as of writing.

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