A lawmaker has filed a measure seeking to improve the road safety laws of the country by presuming that a driver or motorist is not initially liable in an accident he or she is involved in.
In filing House Bill 1987, or the proposed "Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act," Iligan City Representative Frederick Siao aims to craft a law that will "radically change the road rules and improve road safety."
"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," Siao said in a statement.
"House Bill 1987 seeks to overturn that," he added.
The measure classifies the kinds of driving offenses as dangerous driving, reckless driving, suicidal driving, terroristic driving, careless driving, impaired driving. Another offense is called irresponsible custody of vehicle.
A driver will be presumed not initially culpable nor 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.
Meanwhile, a driver involved in a road 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 following, on the other hand, are considered under the bill as 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.
Only a person in authority or law enforcer who is first on the scene or has a continuing investigative responsibility over the road incident resulting in death, injury, destruction of property, or traffic congestion may determine an initial presumption of culpability on the part of the driver, which should be done in writing in a traffic incident report, or orally, with witnesses present.
A person in authority may order the confiscation or confiscate himself the license of a suspected erring driver.
The law enforcer investigating the incident is required to secure signed and sworn statements of the drivers and other persons involved or witnessed the incident. —KBK, GMA News