MANILA, Philippines – Last month, 15 college students on their way to a camping trip lost their lives when the bus they were riding crashed into a electric post in Tanay, Rizal.
The Tanay bus crash prompts questions on the state of road safety laws in the Philippines, and how adequate these policies are in ensuring the safety of road users and motorists.
Every year, 1.25 million people die in road crashes – an alarming figure for what experts say is a preventable global health issue.
In its 2015 report on road safety, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10,379 people died due to road crashes in 2013 – a figure higher than the 1,513 recorded in the Philippines’ Department of Public Works and Highway-Traffic Accident Recording and Analysis System.
Various proposals have been raised to arrest the alarming number of road crashes, with lawmakers crafting proposals to improve road safety measures: from the need to rethink the design and construction of roads and keep them up to date with international standards, to implementing proper road safety education and training.
Rappler lists down existing laws and policies on road safety in the Philippines, including proposed measures still pending in Congress.
Enacted: June 20, 1964
The Land Transportation and Traffic Code took effect on June 20, 1964. It also mandates allowable speed limits on open country roads, city and municipal streets, among others.
It also imposes sanctions on reckless driving. Violators will be punished under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.
Enacted: July 2016
Under this law, public utility vehicles, closed vans, cargo trailers, shuttle services, or tanker trucks are not allowed to ply roads without a standard speed limiter approved by the Department of Transportation.
These vehicles will also be barred from acquiring registration or franchise without the required speed limiters.
USE OF SEAT BELT
Enacted: August 5, 1999
The Seat Belt Law requires the driver and front seat passengers of a public or private vehicle to wear seat belts while inside the moving vehicle. It also prohibits infants and children 6 years old and below from sitting in the front seat of any running motor vehicle.
Car manufacturers, assemblers and distributors have to ensure that seat belt devices are properly installed in the vehicles. For jeepneys, manufacturers shall install a lap belt only in the driver’s seat and front passengers’ seats.
Enacted: July 21, 2016
Motorists are banned from “using a mobile communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls,” and “using an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations” while the vehicle is in motion or stopped at a red traffic light.
Using a mobile communications device is not considered distracted driving if done using a hands-free function or similar devices.
DRUNK AND DRUGGED DRIVING
Enacted: May 2013
Under this law, motorists cannot drive if they are under the influence of alcohol, dangerous drugs, or other inebriating substances.
Law enforcement officers are mandated to assess whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol and dangerous drugs. Usual warning signs include the evident smell of alcohol or if the driver has reddish eyes or a flushed face.
Motorists will undergo sobriety tests and have his blood alcohol content (BAC) level assessed. Those with BAC level above the allowable limit will have their license confiscated.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING FOR DRIVERS
Professional Driver’s Education Act (House Bill 5380)
Filing date: January 29, 2015
Status: Pending with the House Committee on Transportation since February 4, 2015
Provisions: The bill requires drivers in the public transportation industry applying for or renewing their professional driver’s license to undergo a driver’s education and road safety program. If the driver passes the program, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will issue a certification.
The bill also directs the LTO to analyze data on road accidents that can help monitor the effectivity of the program.
Professional Truck Driver’s Education Act (House Bill 5107)
Filing date: October 16, 2014
Status: Pending with the House Committee on Transportation since October 22, 2014
Provisions: The bill seeks to require driver education for truck drivers. According to the measure’s proponent, Bulacan 4th District Representative Linabelle Villarica, current accreditation procedures do not have programs specifically designed for truck drivers.
Competence Accreditation Program and Minimum Wage for Bus Drivers Act of 2011 (House Bill 4459)
Filing date: March 23, 2011
Status: Pending with the Committee on Labor and Employment since May 9, 2011
Provisions: Under this bill, drivers should obtain proper training and undergo an accreditation program before they can operate. The bill also proposes providing drivers with fixed monthly salaries.
Road Safety Education Act of 2011 (House Bill 4890)
Filing date: June 30, 2011
Status: Pending with the Committee on Basic Education and Culture since July 27, 2011
Provisions: The bill aims to “ensure the protection of the vulnerable road users by supporting all road safety strategic measures and programs that will [be] inculcate[d] in the minds of school children through early basic education, behavioral changes and discipline in road use.”
Under the bill, 3 government agencies should collaborate to impose its provisions: the Departments of Education, Transportation, and Public Works and Highways.
Road Courtesy, Discipline and Traffic Safety Education Act (House Bill 6098)
Filing date: May 2, 2012
Status: Pending with the Committee on Basic Education and Culture since May 14, 2012
Provisions: A new subject called road courtesy, discipline, and traffic safety education will be included in the curriculum of Grade 1 to 4th year high school students.
The Department of Education (DepED) is tasked to enact the rules to implement the provisions of the act, in partnership with the LTO.
Enacted: March 23, 2010
The law requires motorcycle drivers and back riders to wear standard motorcycle helmets on the road to prevent life-threatening crashes.
Violators will be fined P1,500 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, P5,000 for the third offense and P10,000 plus the confiscation of driver’s license for the fourth and succeeding offenses.
Enacted: July 21, 2015
Under this law, children who can comfortably reach their feet on the standard foot peg of the motorcycle and grasp the waist of the driver are allowed to ride motorcycles. The child also has to wear a helmet.
Motor Vehicle Safety Act (House Bill 6463)
Filing date: February 15, 2016
Status: Pending with the Committee on Transportation since May 23, 2016
Provisions: The bill seeks to penalize automobile owners or operators who knowingly allow someone without a driver’s license to borrow his or her motor vehicle.
The prohibition, however, does not apply to a person or corporation licensed to engage in a driving school business.
Motorcycle Toll Lanes Act of 2012 (House Bill 6136)
Filing date: May 9, 2012
Status: Pending with the Committee on Transportation since May 16, 2012
Provisions: The bill proposes the creation of motorcycle lanes or facilities on major toll roads that lead to the National Capital Region (NCR). The move seeks to lessen the growing number of accidents involving motorists from nearby provinces of the region. The bill covers major toll roads leading to the NCR and exiting to Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna.
USE AND INSTALLATION OF ACCESSORY DEVICES
Dashcam Act of 2015 (House Bill 6050)
Filing date: August 25, 2015
Status: Pending with the Committee on Transportation since August 26, 2015
Provisions: Under this bill, the installation of dashboard cameras or systems in public utility vehicles will be required. A “dashcam” is a camera mounted on the dashboard that can record the vehicle’s activities, with some units able to record driving speed, road routes, seat belt usage, and steering and braking events.
An Act Prohibiting the Use of High Intensity Discharge (HID) Headlamps (House Bill 3769)
Filing date: December 1, 2010
Status: Pending with the Committee on Transportation since December 27, 2010
Provisions: This bill seeks to ban the use of bright white headlights or high intensity discharge (HID) headlamps in motor vehicles to reduce road accidents.
The bill’s author, Bayan Muna party-list representative Neri Colmenares, said using HID headlights can cause inconvenience to other motorists due to its excessive brightness, adding that many countries have already prohibited its use.
SAFETY OF CYCLISTS AND PEDESTRIANS
Filing date: June 30, 2016
Status: Pending with the Committee on Transportation since July 26, 2016
Provisions: The bill seeks to institutionalize bike lanes or bikeways in all major roads and highways, to be identified by the Local Bikeways Office under the supervision of the city or municipal engineers office
Filing date: July 24, 2013
Status: Pending with the Committee on Public Works and Highways since July 31, 2013
Provisions: The bill outlines the rights of pedestrians on public roads, and the responsibility of drivers to yield to pedestrians crossing the street. Local government units and the public works department are also mandated to provide sidewalks for public use, and to ensure that there are clearly marked signages.
CREATION OF AGENCIES
National Transportation Safety Board Act of 2013 (House Bill 3089)
Filing date: October 7, 2013
Status: Referred to stakeholders on January 12, 2015
Provisions: This bill aims to create the National Transportation Safety Board that will investigate transportation-related accidents on land, sea, air, and railway and pipeline systems.
To pursue this goal, the board will be appropriated an initial fund of P30 million for its first year of operation.
Filing date: December 7, 2015
Status: Pending with the Committee on Transportation since December 8, 2015
Provisions: The bill aims to establish the National Motor Vehicle Safety Administration (NMVSA) which will prescribe standards for motor vehicles, carry out research and development, and investigate causes of road crashes and accidents.
– research by Cathrine Gonzales and Alanis Banzon/Rappler.com