MANILA, Philippines — Beginning Thursday, May 18, 2017, two key laws intended to improve road safety will come into force: Republic Act 10913 or the “Anti-Distracted Driving Act,” and RA 10666 or “An Act Providing for the Safety of Children Aboard Motorcycles.”
RA 10913 bans the use of mobile electronic devices by drivers except if these allow hands-free operation and do not interfere with line-of-sight. This includes when the vehicle is stopped at a red light or has pulled over because of a traffic regulation.
Exemptions to the rule are when a motorist uses a mobile phone for emergency purposes, or while operating a vehicle providing emergency assistance such as an ambulance or fire truck.
The law also covers “wheeled agricultural machineries, construction equipment, and other forms of conveyances such as bicycles, pedicabs, trolleys, ‘habal-habal‘, ‘kuligligs‘, wagons, carriages, and carts that may either be human-powered or pulled by an animal, as long as the same are operated or driven in public thoroughfares, highways, or streets.”
And while the use of navigational apps such as Waze is allowed, these should be set before driving and consulted visually only if the vehicle is at a full stop. Dash cams should be installed behind rear view mirrors while cell phones with navigational apps can be mounted but should not distract the driver’s line of sight.
The law slaps a fine of P5,000 on first offenders, P10,000 for the second offense, P15,000 and suspension of driver’s license for the third, and P20,000 and revocation of driver’s license for the fourth.
But the penalty is stiffer for the drivers of a public utility vehicle, school bus, school service vehicle, common carrier hauling volatile, flammable or toxic material, or a driver who commits an act classified as distracted driving within a 50-meter radius of a school, who will be subject to a fine of P30,000 and a three-month suspension of the driver’s license.
These fines can be increased in 10 percent increments ever five years.
Under RA 10666, motorcycles on roads where vehicle volume is heavy or where speeds can exceed 60 kilometers per hour can only ferry a child wearing a standard protective helmet and whose feet can comfortably reach the foot peg and arms can reach around and grasp the waist of the driver.
The only exception is when transporting a child who requires immediate medical attention.
First offenders face a fine of P3,000, P5,000 for the second offense and P10,000 on the third and succeeding offenses. But the driver’s license will also be suspended for one month on the third offense and revoked after this.