House Bill Establishing 'Fair Accountability for Road Safety Incidents' Filed

Representative Frederick W. Siao from the lone district of Iligan City has filed House Bill (HB) No. 1987 for the first regular session of the 18th Congress. The bill, which is known as the 'Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act,' seeks to "update the country's road safety laws" and establish the "liability of drivers involved in traffic violations and road safety incidents."

According to Siao, under today's laws, drivers or motorists involved in accidents "are presumed at fault" even if pedestrians or other motorists "are at fault or also share fault." With Siao's bill, the laws should also be "fair to the drivers who were not at fault."

Under the bill, a driver will be presumed not initially culpable or be totally at fault for an incident under 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 traveling 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 scene 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; and
  • the driver of the other vehicle has non-functional or lacking in head lights, tail lights, and other warning devices.
However, a driver involved in an accident is presumed initially culpable when:

  • the driver flees from the scene of the road safety accident;
  • the driver was driving at high speed according to recorded eyewitnesses' accounts taken at the scene of the road safety accident;
  • 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; and
  • the victim is a child younger than 15 years of age
The bill also provides for the following mitigating circumstances in driving violations:

  • Fast driving due to medical emergency to rush to a hospital or other medical facility for immediate care;
  • Pursuit of a suspect in a crime who is fleeing or has just fled from the scene of a crime;
  • Rushing home or to workplace because of a fire or other disaster; and
  • Serious to gross defects in the design and construction of roads and bridges, and of traffic signs and warnings.
HB1987 also defines the different types of unsafe driving behavior as follows: dangerous driving; reckless driving; suicidal driving; terroristic driving; careless driving; impaired driving; and irresponsible custody of the vehicle.

For the penalties and liabilities, depending on the driving behavior, it ranges from provisions in the revised Penal Code and from the Civil Code, as well as the suspension of the driver's license from three to five years to the permanent disqualification of its issuance on top of the fines provided in Republic Act 10951.

It's also worth noting that if your driving results in traffic congestion "lasting over an hour," the bill--if passed--will suspend your license for one year.

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