By Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

Driving on the wrong side of the road

“Hold people accountable for irresponsible behavior, that affects you and the world around you”- Trish MCarn

By now, a lot of people have seen that viral video of a motorcycle rider traversing the wrong side of the skyway and smashing into an Asian utility vehicle (AUV). It is regrettable that the said rider died but what is more regrettable is that the innocent driver of the AUV, who had clearly the right of way, had to go to jail for a few days before he was released only because the family of the rider filed an affidavit of desistance. 

According to reports, the motorcycle rider allegedly had no helmet nor valid driver’s license at the time. He was also travelling faster than the speed limit and riding a motorcycle type not allowed on the skyway, all while under the influence of alcohol. Despite the plethora of violations and being clearly on the wrong side of the skyway, the AUV driver had to suffer being held in jail for a few days simply because the rider died and the standard procedure in our system is to detain the other driver when the other party dies.  

Yesterday, another similar video was recorded in Cebu of a rider again on the wrong side of the road hitting another car. Lately, we have been seeing several videos of accidents that involve riders and some drivers on the wrong side of the road that have resulted in injuries and death. In most of these instances, the other driver is detained even when it is obvious that the other party was where he/she was not supposed to be. For the past few years, we have seen an uptick of riders and drivers traversing solid lanes into the wrong side of roads and even on exclusive bus lanes along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Despite being obviously the ones violating traffic rules, many of these riders and drivers have the gall to be angry when they are confronted about being on the wrong side of the road. We have all seen the video where a motorcycle rider blocking a car was arguing and refusing to budge even though it was the car who had the right of way.  

The incident on the Skyway has several people asking why the system is the way it is and why clearly innocent drivers are being made to suffer for the obvious lack of care of errant riders and drivers. There is actually a house bill pending in congress that addresses precisely this obvious flaw in our legal system. House Bill 1987 or the Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act puts the onus of culpability on the driver who at the time of an accident is committing a traffic violation. If a rider or driver is on the wrong side of the road then any accident should be attributable to that rider or driver automatically. It is respectfully submitted that perhaps it is time to urgently pass this house bill into law. 

Many suggest that it is time to make just being on the wrong side of the road as conclusive proof that the driver and rider is the one at fault under any circumstances even if the same cause the rider or driver’s death. Others also add that the concept of last clear chance where the law-abiding driver is required to try all means to avoid the reckless driver lest he be held liable for the injury or death of the errant rider be finally scrapped. In addition to this shift in the burden of proof, a lot of motorists are demanding that a massive “no mercy enforcement drive” should be implemented against those who insist on driving on the wrong side of the road. People are also saying that anyone who is caught driving on the wrong side of the road should be given very stiff penalties and have their license suspended for several months for the first offense and suspended permanently for the second offense. 

This is just common sense. Perhaps, it is high time that we take a tough stand on something as simple as driving on the right side of the road. Perhaps, we should all pitch in to bring common sense back into some aspects of our culture, one step at a time, even if we have to drag some recalcitrant drivers kicking and screaming into the fold. 

This is my oblique observation.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Atty. Gilberto Lauengco, J.D.

ATTY. GILBERTO LAUENGCO, J.D. is a lawyer, educator, political strategist, government consultant, Lego enthusiast, and the director of CAER Think Tank. He is a Former Vice Chairman of MECO, Special Assistant of NFA and City Administrator among others. His broad experience has molded his unique approach to issues analysis which he calls the oblique observation.