Photo by Edd Gumban/STAR

Bill seeks ‘fairness’ in road incident accountability

In a bid to update the “ancient” road regulations in the country, a lawmaker has proposed a bill seeking to rightfully punish drivers and pedestrians involved in road accidents. 

Proposed House Bill No. 1987 or the “Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act“ of Iligan City Rep. Frederick Siao aims to make the current road regulations “fair to drivers who (are) not at fault.”

In the bill’s explanatory note, the driver will be presumed not initially at fault during an investigation when:

– The victim is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medication;

– The victim was not crossing the street at a pedestrian lane or road intersection;

– The victim crossed the street or highway instead of using a nearby pedestrian footbridge;

– The victim is a bicycle rider not wearing safety devices or wearing dark clothing;

– The victim is a driver 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;

– The victim is a driver who, at the exact time of the incident, did not have right of way on the road;

– The driver did not flee from the screen of the road safety incident;

– The driver was suffering, at the time of the incident, a medical emergency such as a heart attack, stroke, asthma attack, or diabetes shock;

– The driver of the other vehicle has non-functional or lacking in head lights, tail lights, and other warning devices;

However, the driver involved in a road mishap will be presumed guilty when:

– The driver flees from the scene of the road safety incident;

– The driver was driving at high speed according to recorded eyewitness accounts taken at the scene of the road safety incident;

– The driver had just committed at least one serious traffic violation;

– The driver is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs or prescription medication;

– The driver does not have a driver’s license or has an expired driver’s license;

– The victim is a child younger than 15 years of age;

“Here in this country, if you are a driver who follows the traffic laws but you encounter another motorist or 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 said.

He added that should his proposed bill becomes law, traffic enforcers or the police will have “explicit bases for charging or not charging anyone“ involved in road accidents.

The bill also listed several types of driving in order to have proper basis during a road mishap. These include dangerous driving, reckless driving, suicidal driving, terroristic driving, careless driving, impaired driving, and irresponsible custody of vehicle, which aims to punish vehicle owners who let someone else use his or her vehicle.

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