Lane splitting or filtering

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez - The Freeman

House Bill 1419 or the Anti-Lane Splitting Law of 2019 is stirring up hot debates and angry discussions, especially on social media. The said law has been refiled in the current Congress. Lane splitting is the usage of two vehicles in the same lane. What HB 1419 is targeting is the passing of motorcycles in between vehicles, something motorists are all very aware of. Under HB 1419, it is illegal to pass in between two vehicles unless overtaking. The fines are hefty; ?1,500 for the first offense, ?3,000 for the second, and ?5,000 plus license revocation for the third.

As expected, the riders objected. They claim our road infrastructure cannot properly implement such a law where all motorcycles were to behave like cars. Just imagine the traffic brought about by all motorcycles lining up behind each other if that were to be seriously implemented. They have a point. Our infrastructure cannot handle such a system.

The issue should be the proper way of lane splitting or lane filtering as it pertains to our infrastructure and is also practiced in some countries where it is not illegal. Note nothing in the law says that the part of the road between two vehicles is for motorcycles. There is a reason why there is a gap between vehicles. This is for safety. Without that gap or space, we would have accidents every day. So, if a motorcycle uses that small space, he is merely passing through. He is not entitled to that space. He does not own that part of the road and as such should not make any moves or gestures to enforce it.

I have seen so many arguments and fights between cars and motorcycles due to the latter wanting or forcing its way through a narrow space just to get ahead. If the rider doesn’t get his way, the gestures or the shouts ensue. And frankly, many riders don't seem to believe traffic laws cover them. Do they know what a solid white line on the road means? Many violate that line while waiting for a green light at intersections. Counterflow is also a problem, as well as not following one-way streets. I'm sure motorists can add more to the list. This is not to say motorists do not commit violations.

I think HB 1419 should be tweaked to our needs and limitations before being proposed to Congress and becoming law. Its implementation will only be successful if all motorists and riders are disciplined. But requiring discipline may be asking too much of the Filipino driver and rider. We have yet to see if the No Contact Apprehension Program is successful in instilling discipline among all drivers.


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