Just today, you might have broken one or two laws relating to riding a motorcycle. While some of these illegal actions may have been done unintentionally, that may not serve as a valid excuse the next time you are pulled over by a traffic officer. After all, in Latin, there is the phrase, ignorantia legis neminem excusat – meaning ignorance of the law excuses no one.
Remember that, as a driver's license holder – a privilege given by the Land Transportation Office – it is your responsibility to know the traffic laws of the land and avoid violationg them. Just because there is no sign prohibiting it, it doesn't give you the right to do it.
So let's go over some of the most frequently violated laws regarding riding a motorcycle. This may save you trouble in the future, or even some tickets or fines, when encountering a checkpoint.
1. No red front light/ headlight
Did you know that no vehicle is allowed to install any red light in front of the vehicle? Headlights must be yellowish or white. Signal lights must be amber/ orange. That includes motorcycles. Installing a colored headlight can be dangerous for both the erring motorcycle rider as well as the other road users.
Section 34 C (headlights) of Republic Act 4136 states that “Every motor vehicle of more than one meter of projected width, while in use on any public highway shall bear two headlights (one for motorcycles), one on each side, with white or yellowish light visible from the front, which, not later than one-half hour after sunset and until at least one-half four before sunrise and whenever weather conditions so require, shall both be lighted. Additional lamps and light may be carried, but no red lights shall be visible forward or ahead of the vehicle.”
The law specifically states red, but installing purple, blue, green, or any other bright color will obviously irritate other motorists and can be subject to interpretration by enterprising traffic enforcers. As such, to save you the trouble, we don't recommend installing these other colors either.
2. No wearing of slippers
Getting ready for a short ride? Even if it's a quick trip to the corner sari-sari store, you better wear closed-toe footwear. The LTO prohibits wearing of flip flops or “slippers” when riding a motorcycle, including the pillion (backride) rider. This can also be interpreted to apply to sandals, bakya, and other open-toe footwear whether for men or women.
Section 11 E of the LTO Administrative Order AHS-2008-15 states that “For wearing of flip flops, sandals or slippers or being barefooted while operating a motorcycle or scooter on a road or highway, a fine of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) for the first offense, Seven Hundred Pesos (P700.00) for the second offense and a fine of One Thousand Pesos (P1000.00) and revocation of driver's license for the third offense.”
The Metro Manila Development Authority is especially active in enforcing this ruling with the same P500.00 fine for wearing slippers while riding a motorcycle: mmda.gov.ph. This will typically be mentioned by the apprehending officer as an "Improper Attire" offense.
3. No blinking tail lights
We see a lot of our fellow riders “upgrade” their stock tail lights into blinking tail lights or other to similar accessory lights that have a blinker mode. Some will even install red and blue blinkers in an effort to impersonate as a police officer. These offenses are covered by Presidential Decree 96, and LTO Joint Administrative Order 2014-01. They ban the use of blinkers and sirens as the vehicles using them may be confused by other motorists for emergency vehicles. Only official emergency or law enforcement vehicles are allowed to have these features. Fines prescribed include imprisonment and confiscation of the equipment and/or vehicle.
4. No overloading
In case you don't know, motorcycles are designed to carry a maximum of 2 passengers only. This is indicated by LTO Joint Administrative Order 2014-01 Section J, 36: “Motorcycle carrying more passengers other than the backrider or cargo other than the saddle bags and luggage carriers.” Penalty: P1,000.00
5. Lane splitting/ filtering
As much as I hate to admit it, I'm also guilty of this. “Lane splitting”, as defined under LTO Administrative Order AHS-2008-15 or the Rules and Regulations for the Use and Operation of Motorcycles on Highways, says “...shall mean using or sharing a lane already occupied by one vehicle by another vehicle such as a motorcycle or scooter in a road or highway.” While the authorities have turned a blind eye against this, a law is a law.
The original Motopinas.com article can be read here.
6. Defective or no headlight/ taillight
This is a no-brainer but unfortunately, a lot, and I mean A LOT of our fellow riders are negligent about this. Come on! Busted headlights or tail lights? If we can buy motorcycle accessories worth P500 or more, how come we can't buy a P100 headlight bulb or a P20 tail light bulb?
If caught with a defective headlight or taillight during a routine checkpoint, or flagged down by a traffic enforcer, the penalty is P5,000.00 including impounding of the motorcycle until the defective equipment is corrected or removed. Making sure this condition is met is for our own safety. We don't want some vehicle ramming us from behind at night because the driver didn't see us.
7. Change of rim size
Some motorcycle riders change the rim size of their beloved steeds either for style or some other benefit. For example, some shorter riders change their bike's rim size to smaller ones to lower the seat height. Supermoto enthusiasts, on the other hand, change their rims from the standard dirt bike rims (18/21 inches) to 17 inches for better performance on-road.
Though these changes may seem harmless, did you know that it is illegal to change the rim size of the motorcycle? Changing the rims, whether to a smaller or larger size requires prior approval from the LTO.
Department Order 2010-32 says that changing the rim size of a vehicle (including motorcycles) is considered an illegal modification and has a penalty of P5,000, including impounding of the vehicle until such modification is corrected.
8. No small children as passengers
Sometimes it can't really be helped. There are times when we would prefer to bring our kids to school on board our motorcycles, especially since the current mass transport system we have (tricycles, jeepneys, etc) doesn't quite offer the safety we'd like. Yet is the bike any better? The law doesn't seem to think so.
In 2015, president Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10666 or the “Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act of 2015”. Under this law, “It shall be unlawful for any person to drive a two (2)-wheeled motorcycle with a child on board on public roads where there is heavy volume of vehicles, there is a high density of fast-moving vehicles or where a speed limit of more than 60/kph is imposed, unless:
(a) The child passenger can comfortably reach his/her feet on the standard foot peg of the motorcycle;
(b) The child’s arms can reach around and grasp the waist of the motorcycle rider; and;
(c) The child is wearing a standard protective helmet referred to under Republic Act No. 10054, otherwise known as the “Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009.”
Fines for violating RA 10666 amount to P3,000.00 for the 1st offense, P5,000 for the second offense and P10,000 for the 3rd and succeeding offenses, including revocation of the driver's license after the 3rd offense.
9. Keep headlights always on
As motorcycle riders, we are often hard to see on the road, particularly from a driver's perspective. Turning on our headlights increases our chances of being seen, even during the day. In fact, some motorcycle manufacturers have already been offering motorcycles equipped with AHO or the Automatic Headlight On as standard for quite some time now.
If your motorcycle still doesn't have this feature, just turn your headlights on always to avoid being apprehended. LTO Administrative Order AHS 2008-015 requires motorcycle riders to always turn on their headlights (low beam), whether day or night, on all roads.
10. No plate attachments/ modifications
You might find it surprising but did you know that attaching anything on top or around the motorcycle license plate is illegal? This includes any accessories or decoration. We see this a lot on the road in the form of additional lights (LED) with varying colors, “Thai plates”, clear or tinted plexiglass, etc. These are all prohibited as per LTO Joint Administrative Order 2014-01. “This includes the attachment of any unauthorized plate/s or any accessory or device to and/or around the authorized motor vehicle plate...” Penalty: P5,000.00 including confiscation of unauthorized attachments and plate accessories.
Read up on the rules
These are just a few of the rules that motorcycle riders frequently violate. There's an even more exhaustive list of what's prohibited when it comes to LED, auxiliary, or fog lamps which you can read about here.
We hope that you can read up on the rules with the links we've provided and hopefully be better informed when apprehended for an offense or at a checkpoint.
Many of these rules have been made for our safety. We don't own the road. We have to share them with other motorcycles and vehicles. So following the rules keeps the traffic flowing. Keeping updated on the rules may save you a traffic ticket, fine, or even confiscation. But in the greater scheme of things, it will also make driving or riding even safer and more comfortable for our fellow motorists.