All about reckless driving and why you should not engage in it
MANILA: Have you played those fascinating cars or motorcycle racing games on your pc/laptop or smartphone? If you have, you must have come across the term "reckless driving" at least once. While the term "reckless driving" and its consequences might seem funny and insignificant in the virtual world, the damage that can be done to an individual in the real world because of reckless driving is most probably beyond what you think about it.
In recent times, events of Filipinos being found violating the reckless driving laws and putting both their and others' lives in danger have increased. So, before you get yourself involved in reckless driving knowingly or by mistake, this story will help you comprehend the reckless driving laws, types, penalties, and much more.
The standard definition of reckless driving, according to the Department of Justice Advisory for Motorists Regarding Road Safety, is, "the act of operating a motor vehicle without reasonable caution considering the width, traffic, grades, crossing, curvatures, visibility and other conditions of the highway and the conditions of the atmosphere and weather, or so as to endanger the property or the safety or rights of any person, or so as to cause excessive or unreasonable damage to the highway".
Moreover, under the Republic Act No. 4136 (“R.A. 4136”), otherwise known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, reckless driving is a punishable act. Under Section 48, an individual is considered to be a reckless driver if and when he operates a motor vehicle without reasonable caution:
- considering the width, traffic, grades, crossing, curvatures, visibility and other conditions of the highway and the conditions of the atmosphere and weather, or
- to endanger the property or the safety or rights of any person, or
- to cause excessive or unreasonable damage to the highway
In order to understand breakneck driving adequately, let's discuss some of the different kinds of reckless driving:
1. Over speeding
A lot of incidents where the driver was driving at a speed that was over the prescribed limit has resulted in the loss of both life and property. Many roads have even got the title of “Killer Highways" due to the high number of accidents that have transpired on them. Across the Philippines, the Section 35 of R.A. 4136 prescribes maximum allowable speeds for different roads taking into consideration the width of the road, amount of traffic, and whether or not the road lies in a high-risk zone. The law designates allowed speeds as:
- a speed that is careful and prudent, not greater or less than what is reasonable and proper considering traffic, road, and other existing conditions
- a speed that will not endanger the life, limb, and property of any person
- a speed that will permit a driver to bring his vehicle to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead
2. Drunk driving
Never think of driving after consuming alcohol, just never. Intoxication hampers your alertness and the ability to focus and may result in an accident causing fatal injuries, or even death. R.A. 4136, declares driving a vehicle under a state of intoxication as "reckless driving" irrespective of the fact whether it has caused any harm/damage or not, simply because people and property on the road are under danger.
Furthermore, under Section 53 of R.A. 4136, “no person shall drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor or narcotic drug”. Once proven to be drunk, therefore, a person can be held liable for driving under the influence of alcohol, which is a graver offence than reckless driving. The likes of Navotas and Makati already have "ordinances providing that a driver is drunk under the law if he registers a Blood Alcohol Content level of 0.06% within one (1) hour of his apprehension".
3. Distracted driving
Distracted driving is one of the more common forms of reckless driving that the Filipinos find themselves engaged in. To have a better understanding of it, "Distracted driving is a form of reckless driving, because it deviates a driver’s attention away from the road, causing him to commit acts or omissions that may endanger himself and others", reads the Advisory for Motorists Regarding Road Safety by the Department of Justice.
Further, the advisory also mentions that there are different internal factors and non-driving cognitive activities that result in distracted driving. The "internal factors" include talking to someone in the vehicle itself or on the phone, eating or drinking, retrieving objects in the floor/dashboard, adjusting the radio, and using mobile phones, laptops/iPads, iPods/MP3 players, or other devices while driving. The "non-driving cognitive activities", on the other hand, comprise of thinking or worrying about problems or issues that are not related to driving.
Penalties for reckless driving
Well, every offence and crime carries a penalty and so does irresponsible driving. While reckless driving carries a fine of Php 1,200, drunk driving, on the other hand, may hit you with a penalty of Php 2,000 to Php 5,000, or imprisonment (three to six months) or both, following the court's verdict. In case of damages and injuries to persons or property, the Revised Penal Code provisions will also come into play. Following the assessment of the injuries and damages, a person may be charged with various offences likes physical injuries, damage to property, homicide, and murder.
Some words of wisdom that the Advisory for Motorists Regarding Road Safety by the Department Of Justice embrace are:
- Reckless driving, drunk driving and distracted driving are violations of the law in themselves. They need not result in damages, injuries or even death for them to be punishable
- Do not engage in distracting activities while driving, like using your mobile phones, electronic gadgets or GPS devices
Take extra caution when in accident-prone areas or in “Killer Highways”
- Be vigilant in order to protect yourself and others, and do your share in coming up with stricter laws and rules to promote road safety
We hope this article was of some help to you and we were able to instil some knowledge about reckless driving and its consequences in your mind. Drive safe and take care of not only the people inside but also outside your vehicle.
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