The greatest fear of any automobile driver is a major accident. But there's a situation in the Philippines where, in the event of any major collision where someone gets hurt or killed, the driver gets detained and blamed even though he or she may have been following the rules and driving properly.
That's the sad reality of driving here, and finally, a lawmaker is pushing to make it right.
Rep. Mario Vittorio A. Marino from the 5th District of Batangas Congressman has re-filed the “Fair Road Crash Investigation and Accountability Act” in the Lower House. Yes, he re-filed bill because it didn’t get any traction as House Bill 899 in the 18th Congress but contains the same stipulations as House Bill 920 in the 19th Congress.
The bill aims to ‘provide quality response during road crashes and fair road crash investigation in accordance with international and domestic standards.’
Under the bill, the Philippine National Police (PNP), Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), local traffic bureau, and other law and traffic enforcers (closest to the scene) will be the initial or first responders. The PNP shall be the lead agency investigating road crashes, and they shall be responsible for assigning a duly trained traffic investigation unit or officer.
It is important to note that the bill has a provision called the Good Samaritan Rule. It states that an offer to pay or the payment of medical/hospital or other expenses occasioned by an injury shall not be a presumption for civil or criminal liability for injuries sustained from the road crash.
The PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG) is not considered first-responders under the bill. They are not required to cover the scene unless there are fatalities, if the crash poses a danger to others if traffic is obstructed if road closure is required if multiple driving offenses have been committed, or when parties involved in the crash are not cooperative.
In order to achieve fairness and ensure accountability, sworn written statements/affidavits and contact details of both parties involved in the crash will be taken to the police station that has jurisdiction over the accident. Culpability shall initially be assessed by the first responders and/or the traffic investigation unit/officer. The final liability will be determined after reviewing of video footage from dashcams, action cameras, and CCTVs located in the area.
Presumption of culpability will only happen if the driver of the four-wheeled vehicle is DUI, has no (or expired) driver’s license, no vehicle OR or CR, committed a serious traffic violation, flees the scene of the crime, or in the case of PUV, has no Certificate of Public Convenience or franchise.
The culpability of victims will depend on the following:
- When the person injured was not crossing at a pedestrian lane or road intersection
- When the person injured crossed the street or highway instead of using the designated pedestrian crossing or nearby footbridge;
- When the person injured is a motorcycle/bicycle/tricycle driver not wearing road safety devices traveling on a national highway and not driving in the designated or rightmost lane of the roadway in accordance with international standards
- When the other driver or person injured/died did not have right of way at the exact time of the accident
PUV operators are automatically liable for the death or injuries of passengers if there is a defect in the means of transport or in the method of transporting, or to the negligent or willful acts of the owners’/operators’ employees.
The bill also aims to ensure that all road crash investigations shall be completed within six (6) hours from the reporting of the occurrence of the road crash. After examining the crash investigation report, the Inquest Prosecutor must prepare the corresponding complaint or information within six (6) hours from the receipt of the road crash investigation report. If no probable cause exists, the Inquest Prosecutor shall order the release of the suspected erring driver from custody.
In the interest of fairness, no person shall be compelled to shoulder medical/ hospital and other expenses for injuries sustained from road crashes. Also, no person shall be detained for major road crashes for a period of more than twelve (12) hours from the commencement of the investigation. And in no case shall a party or parties be detained for minor road crashes.
Both parties are allowed to negotiate a settlement, but in the event that none is reached, a traffic investigating officer shall indicate such fact in the road crash report and refer the case to the barangay having jurisdiction for the issuance of a Certificate to File an Action.