Last weekend, a video went viral on Facebook showing a road crash that occurred during the 24-hour, 1,200-kilometer BOSS Ironman Challenge in central and northern Luzon last Saturday.
The incident prompted the Automobile Association Philippines (AAP) to warn the public, for the umpteenth time, about the dangers of illegal road races.
As the only Philippine affiliate of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), the governing body for motor sport worldwide, AAP is tasked with the authority and responsibility to sanction four-wheel motor sport events in the country so as to make sure that proper safety measures are taken.
The organizer and sponsors of the 12th BOSS Ironman Challenge held last January 14, however, did not inform AAP or seek AAP sanction for the race. In fact, AAP only learned about it from a press release issued the day before the event.
AAP president Gus Lagman and AAP motor sport division chair Mandy Eduque condemned illegal road races like the Ironman Challenge for endangering not only the participants, but also bystanders, onlookers and residents of towns through which the racers pass at reckless speeds.
“Nobody wins in illegal road races,” Lagman said. “Unsanctioned road races recklessly disregard safety measures and place everyone’s life and limb at risk—not to mention possible damage to property. AAP has always dissuaded everyone from organizing, sponsoring or joining illegal road races.”
Lagman deplored the fact that the Ironman Challenge held on January 14 was the twelfth and continues to be organized and sponsored every year despite road crashes that have seriously injured participants and non-participants alike in the past.
“The organizers, participants and even the sponsors replicate criminal negligence when they continue to help in setting up these dangerous events,” Eduque added.
Eduque noted that driving for 24 hours straight is in itself hazardous, since exhaustion greatly increases the risks of getting into an accident, more so when riding a motorcycle or driving an automobile at high speeds to cover 1,200 kilometers in the required span of 24 hours.
Despite the usual news blackout imposed, AAP motor sport operations manager Mark Desales is verifying reports of casualties related to the Ironman event. He said that two people who were not even participants were reportedly badly injured after two racing motorcyclists recklessly cut into their lane along Kennon Road in Baguio.
“A driver and his passenger sustained multiple injuries. The passenger’s skull was reportedly fractured. What’s worse is that the riders allegedly did not slow down or stop to check on their victims,” Desales said.
Both Lagman and Eduque pointed out that the organizer and the riders should be held criminally liable for placing the lives of other persons in danger due to the organizer’s negligence in providing and enforcing safety measures.
Eduque said that those who participate in illegal races could face criminal charges. Section 56 of Republic Act 4136 states that “if, as the result of negligence or reckless or unreasonable fast driving, any accident occurs resulting in death or injury of any person, the motor vehicle operator at fault shall, upon conviction, be punished under the provisions of the Revised Penal Code.”
AAP has been campaigning to curb all non-sanctioned, four-wheel road races and is urging their counterparts in the two-wheel community to follow suit. AAP does not issue competition licenses to those who join illegal road races and revokes the licenses of those who participate in the same.
Eduque reiterated that incidents like last Saturday’s have a negative impact on legal motor sport activities. “Whenever an accident occurs during an illegal road race, there is a knee-jerk public reaction that motor sport events are not safe. This is contrary to its real essence.”