If you drive on the highway often, you might have noticed some cars trying to get ahead by using the shoulder. This often happens when traffic is backed up. Some resort to driving on the shoulder in a bid to get ahead of the jam. If you're in the correct lane, it's annoying when someone drives up the shoulder and cuts in front of you when the other person runs out of pavement.
Not only is it dangerous and sketchy, but it's also downright illegal. But don't take our word for it; the LTO (Land Transportation Office) says so themselves. If you need any more proof, take a look at LTO's Driver's Manual and the reviewer.
Question number 69 in the Driver's Manual asks, “Using the shoulder of the road to pass the right side of the car ahead is _____”. The answer, according to the agency is, “against the law”. It's also question number 185 of the reviewer. And yes, the answer is the same no matter what source you look at. And while we're on the subject of no-overtaking, it's also illegal to make your impromptu counterflow lane and drive on the sidewalk to get past the traffic jam.
So, why do some motorists still do it? It's either they don't know, don't care, become impatient with the traffic, or all of the above. We've established that it's illegal, but what makes it dangerous?
For starters, a vehicle could be stopped right there. The shoulder is used for emergencies and breakdowns, and not as an extra passing or driving lane. If you're driving at speed and spot the stationary vehicle ahead too late, that's an accident waiting to happen. But what if the traffic is slow-moving anyway? You'll have to cut in the proper lane, force everyone to slow down from there, and cause further delays down the queue.
Now, what if the shoulder is clear? It's still not an excuse to drive down there. A broken-down vehicle could be making its way there, and you run the risk of smashing into it if you don't see it in time. Also, you could end up picking up road debris that may puncture your tire. You may not feel its effect immediately, but don't be surprised if you see a flat or soft tire in the coming days.
But when can motorists use the shoulder? If you're experiencing mechanical problems, you can bring it there, stop, and mend the vehicle. You can also drive there if you are instructed by authorities, in unique situations. The shoulder can also be used for those lining up to reload their RFID balance or get RFID tags installed if the reloading or installation side is off the shoulder. If you're a police officer, soldier, or paramedic on the way to an emergency, you may use the shoulder to get to your destination.
You're probably wondering what's the violation for driving on the shoulder. It isn't stated in the LTO Driver's Handbook, but it can fall under reckless or dangerous driving. The penalty for that is PHP 2,000 for the first offense. The second offense is PHP 3,000 and a license suspension of three months. Subsequent violations can net you a PHP 10,000 fine, and you also run the risk of getting your license revoked.
To avoid all that, just don't drive on the shoulder. Sure, you'll sit in traffic a little longer, but are you willing to get points on your license to save a few minutes? Be patient. We'll get to where we need to go anyway.