Congress wants heavy penalties for drag racing on public roads

Sometimes when we go through the official website of our two national legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate, we find a few unusual items.

That certainly is the case for this latest proposed law from the lower house: House Bill 3391 which has the long title of 'An Act Prohibiting Drag Racing In Public Roads And Prescribing Penalties For Violations Thereof And For Other Purposes'.

The short title is easier to understand: Drag Racing Ban Act.

First filed on August 5, 2019, by Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo, the bill seeks to officially outlaw drag racing on public roads which is a danger to pedestrians and motorists alike.

The definition of drag racing to be outlawed under HB 3391 a contest of vehicular power and acceleration between two private vehicles driven either side-by-side (though it makes a provision that side-by-side isn't necessary) over a specified distance (i.e. quarter-mile), the objective of which is to outdo each other. This covers not just automobiles with 4 or more wheels, but motorcycles as well.

Interestingly, the bill also has a provision with regards to public utility vehicles “drag racing” to be able to get passengers before the other driver by randomly overtaking each other.

The bill, if passed into law, will mete out penalties from PhP 300,000 to PhP 500,000 and possibly imprisonment for a year.

Yesterday, November 4, House Bill 3391 has been approved by the House Committee on Transportation, albeit with some comments and proposed amendments to the bill. Rep. Hipolito, the author of the bill, reiterated that drag racing on public roads is a danger to the public and to property, and also mentioned the noise pollution related to such activities.

Land Transportation Office (LTO) Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante supported the bill, along with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steven Pastor. According to the information from Congress, Pastor also proposed that the vehicles be impounded.

One member of congress, Rep. Aloysa Lim, proposed to expand the measure to regulate instead of prohibiting drag racing to “cover both the legal and illegal drag racing.”

As to what Rep. Lim meant by legal and illegal drag racing is unclear, as legal drag racing typically takes place on a fully enclosed drag strip in a purpose-built racing circuit like Clark International Speedway. To our memory, the last time legal drag racing on a public road was an event along Seaside Drive in the Mall of Asia area about 17 (or 18) years ago; the road was closed off at the time for the event.

There is, however, an unusual issue: drag racing on public roads (AKA: street racing) is already illegal according to the Department of Justice. Last year, a motorcycle drag race was proposed in Cebu for the 2020 Sinulog festival but was rejected due to an August 2012 DOJ advisory informing the public that drag racing on public roads was, in fact, already outlawed.