For decades, our traffic laws have heavily favored pedestrians when it comes to collisions with vehicles, even if those pedestrians, whether on foot or on a bicycle, where in the wrong. Now, a new house bill hopes to fix that to make it fair for both pedestrians and motorists.
Iligan City Representative, Frederick Siao, filed House Bill No. 1987, or the 'Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act'. The bill hopes to update the country's road safety laws, as well as laws on criminal, civil, and administrative culpability and liability of drivers involved in traffic violations / road safety incidents.
Under current laws, drivers or motorists involved in accidents, road safety incidents, or traffic violations are immediately presumed at fault even when pedestrians are involved or share equal fault. House Bill No. 1987 aims to hold pedestrians at fault if they have been found to have caused the accident.
"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. House Bill 1987 seeks to overturn that,” Siao said in a statement.
According to the bill, the driver is presumed to be not initially at fault for the incident under investigation when:
- the victim is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs;
- the victim was not crossing the street via 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 any safety devices or is wearing dark clothing; the victim is a driver of a motorcycle, tricycle or bicycle traveling on a national highway under the minimum speed limit and not on the rightmost lane;
- the victim is a driver who, at the exact time of the incident, did not have the 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, a medical emergency such as a heart attack, stroke, asthma attack, or diabetic shock;
- the driver of the other vehicle has non-functional or lacking in headlights, taillights, and other warning devices.
On the flipside, the driver involved in a road accident can be found at fault when:
- the driver flees from the scene
- the driver was driving at high speed based on recorded eyewitness accounts
- the driver had just committed at least one serious traffic violation
- the driver is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs
- 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.
Provisions in the bill can also exempt the driver from traffic violations under the following mitigating circumstances: fast driving due to a medical emergency to rush to a hospital for immediate care; pursuit of a suspect in a crime who is fleeing or just fled the scene of a crime; rushing home or to a workplace because of a fire or other disaster; and serious to gross defects in the design of a road or bridge, as well as of traffic signs and warnings.
If this new House Bill is passed into law, abiding motorists can rest easy if they’ve done nothing wrong, particularly if it involves a reckless pedestrian or another vehicle that is clearly violating the law and right of way.