Bill filed to replace ancient road rules



By Rose de la Cruz


House Bill 1987, the proposed Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act, has been filed to replace the ancient road rules which had been unjust to law-abiding, responsible drivers and pedestrians.


Rep. Frederick Siao, lone district Iligan and the bill’s author, said the bill would revamp parts of the country’s land transportation and traffic rules.


"When this becomes law, it will be a landmark, pivotal piece of legislation that will radically change the road rules and improve road safety," Siao said.


Under current laws and procedures, drivers or motorists involved in road incidents and traffic violations are presumed at fault even when pedestrians and/or other motorists are at fault or also share fault. HB 1987 seeks to make the laws fair to the drivers who are not at fault.


In his bill, the driver is presumed to be not initially culpable or not totally at fault for the incident under investigation when the victim is:


1.       Intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medication.

2.       Not crossing the street at a pedestrian lane or road intersection.

3.       Crossing the street or highway instead of using a nearby pedestrian footbriddge.

4.       A drive of a motorcycle, bicycle or tricycle travelling on a national highway under the minimum speed limit and not on the rightmost lane of the roadway.

5.       A driver who, at the exact time of the incident, did not have right of way on the road.

6.       Did not flee from the scene of the road safety incident.

7.       Was suffering at the time of the incident a medical emergency such as heart attack, stroke, asthma attack or diabetes shock.

8.       The other vehicle’s drive has non-functional or lacking in headlights, tail- lights and other warning devices.


"Here in this country, if you are a driver who follows the traffic laws but you encounter another motorist or a pedestrian who does not care about those laws and basic courtesy and safety on the road, you are the one who gets charged with the crime of reckless imprudence resulting in either death, injury, or damage to property. HB 1987 seeks to overturn that," Siao also said.


"For example, naka-go na ang traffic light signal pero may biglang tumawid at sa cellphone pa nakatingin at nabangga habang tumatawid, sino ang may kasalanan? Sa mga batas at traffic rules natin, iyong kawawang driver ang kakasuhan at gagastos. Nasaan ang hustisya riyan?" the congressman explained.


Siao pointed out that when our current traffic laws were enacted there were no CCTVs, few traffic lights, few streetlights, and much less vehicles and pedestrians.


"When HB 1987 becomes law, traffic enforcers and the police will have explicit and clear bases for charging or not charging anyone with driving offenses because the specific conditions for the different degrees of driving offenses are clearly stated, leaving the law enforcer little room for discretion and opportunity for extortion," the congressman also said.


"Sa police blotter at sa traffic violation, reckless imprudence ang totoong kasong nakasulat. Hindi reckless driving. Basta driver violation, reckless imprudence. Mali. This is why we listed in House Bill 1987 the different kinds of driving that can cause harm,"Siao said.


HB 1987 differentiates various kinds of driving offenses: 1) dangerous driving; 2) reckless driving; 3) suicidal driving; 4) terroristic driving; 5) careless driving; and 6) impaired driving.


A seventh type of offense is labeled irresponsible custody of vehicle.


"Kahit hindi ikaw ang driver na nakasagasa, pero kung ikaw ang may-ari o caretaker ng susi ng sasakyan at hindi mo iningatang mabuti ang susi para hindi magamit ng hindi dapat gumamit, halimbawa ng anak mong menor-de-edad, you are ultimately responsible for not being a responsible custodian of the vehicle," Siao explained.