Thursday, May 22, 2014

Philippines: Japanese Tourist Killed, Eight Compatriots, Driver Injured in Cebu

According to, Japanese tourist Hiromi Ichimura was killed and eight of his compatriots and their Filipino driver were injured on Tuesday (May 20) when the van they were traveling in developed mechanical failure and crashed while negotiating a downhill portion of highway in Barangay Gawi, Oslob, Cebu.

The van driver, Guillermo Hella, 57, now faces charges over the incident. 

COMMENT: Hella told police that the van was  in an enclosed tunnel en-route to Tan-awan, when he suddenly lost control of the vehicle, which crashed into a concrete wall at approximately 0350 hours. 
Tragically, serious and often fatal collisions regularly occur worldwide nearly every week, largely for the following reasons:

1. Inexperienced drivers;
2. Typically poor maintenance of commercial vehicles;
3. Poorly illuminated tunnels;
4. Drivers with impaired motoring skills; and
5. Deficient or non-existent traffic enforcement.

This tragedy gives me the opportunity to raise several key points that all foreign travelers should be focused on:

a. ALWAYS carry a mobile phone on your person 24/7 so that you can call a taxi if you feel unsafe; 

b. When traveling in developing nations, always subscribe to international medical treatment and evacuation insurance before you leave home. Go to:

c. A reality is that passengers on any commercial vehicle need to take an active role in reducing their risk exposure when traveling aboard ground transportation;

d. Many commercial drivers work 10-15 hours in nations where driving hours are not vigorously regulated;

e. Make a point to observe the mechanical integrity of any vehicle you're traveling in, as well as the competency of the driver;

f. If you feel the vehicle is unsafe or the driver careless, promptly ask to get off and demand that one or both be replaced by the vendor;

g. Always ask for the phone number of the transport provider;

h. Whenever possible, attempt to travel during daylight hours as much as possible as drivers have fallen asleep during hours of darkness;

i.  Always carry a first-aid kit in your backpack as you never know when it may be needed; and

j. If you believe that you're on an unsafe vehicle or one driven by a careless driver, don't sleep. Stay awake so you can be prepared to act promptly if need be.