• For your own safety, wear those seat belts

    Persida Acosta

    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I encountered a traffic enforcer ticketing a taxi driver for allegedly not wearing a seat belt. It appears that he was wearing his seat belt, but his passenger who was sitting in the front seat with his kid was not wearing his seat belt. Because of this, I’d like to know the extent of the scope of the Seat Belt Law and the nature of its penalties.

    Can the passengers be fined together with the driver in case of violation of the Seat Belt Law? I look forward to the advice of your office on this matter. Thank you and good day!

    Dear Berting,
    Republic Act (RA) 8750, known as the Seat Belts Use Act of 1999, is the law that requires mandatory compliance of public and private motorists to use seat belt devices in line with the policy of the State in pursuing a more proactive and preventive approach in securing the safety of passengers and drivers from vehicular accidents (Sec. 2, Ibid.).

    According to this law:

    “For their own safety, the driver and front seat passengers of a public or private motor vehicle are required to wear or use their seat belt devices while inside a vehicle of running engine on any road or thoroughfare: Provided, that for private vehicles, except for jeeps, jeepneys, vans, buses and such other private vehicles as may be determined in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), front and back seat passengers are also required to use their seat belt devices at all times.

    In the case of public motor vehicles, the driver shall be required to immediately inform and require the front seat passengers upon boarding a vehicle of running engine to wear the prescribed seat belts. Any passenger who refuses to wear seat belts shall not be allowed to continue his/her trip.” (Sec. 4, Id.) Emphasis supplied.

    As stated in this cited provision, both the driver and passengers of a motor vehicle are required to use their seat belt devices. It is also stated that the drivers should inform and require their passengers to wear their seatbelts and may prevent the latter from continuing the trip if refused.

    You mentioned in your narration that the traffic violation you encountered also involves a child sitting in the front seat. Considering this, it is also important to note that aside from requiring the use of seat belt, the seat belt law also has a provision that expressly prohibits children six (6) years old and below from sitting in the front seat of any motor vehicles (Sec. 5, Id.).

    With regard to the penalties for failure to wear seat belts, the Department of Transportation and Communications, together with the Land Transportation Office, came up with Joint Administrative Order 2014-01, which revised the schedule of fines and penalties of traffic violations including non-compliance with the Seat Belt Law.

    Based on this order, the failure to wear the prescribed seat belt, including allowing a child six (6) years old and below to be seated on the front passenger seat, shall make the driver liable for a fine in the amount of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) for the first offense, Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) for the second offense and Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) for the third offense. In addition to this, the driver’s license shall be suspended for a period of one (1) week from the payment of fine for the third and succeeding offenses. The law also provides that the failure of public utility vehicles to require their passengers to wear seat belts, including failure to post signage to remind the passengers to wear their seatbelts, shall make both the driver and operator liable for a fine of Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) for every offense.

    It can be seen here that the law enforces strict penalties for non-compliance with the Seat Belt Act. And for public utility vehicles, it is the driver and operator who are made liable for the fines should their passengers fail to wear the seat belts.

    Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

    We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net


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    1. Teach the people to have a discipline. Civilize people dont need to tell them to wear seat belt. In the middle east country and in europe, both drivers and passenger were responsible for not wearing seat belt. Here in KSA, if the police caught the passenger not wearing set belt it is only the passenger will be given penalty and not the driver..
      very simple…

    2. Melanie Villanueva on

      Dear Pao, ako po ay may live-in partner at may 3 na kaming anak ngayon, ang partner ko po ay hiwalay sa asawa sila ay kasal at hindi pa sila annulled,2004 pa po sila naghiwalay dahil nalaman ng partner ko na lesbian pala ang asawa nya at nakikipagrelasyon na ito sa kapwa nya babae,at nakilala ko po tong partner ko 2006 hanggang nagsama na kami until now, At nong 2011 nabalitaan namin na ang dating asawa ng partner ko ay may karelasyon ng lalaki at may anak narin sila, kaso po hindi sila totally nagsama kasi american citezen ang lalaki at nasa america ang work pero pinapadalhan sila nito ng pera kada buwan..Ang tanong ko po kung may karapatan pa ba ang dating asawa ng partner ko na maghabol sa maging benificiary nito kung sakaling pumanaw na ang partner ko? kahit parehas na sila may anak sa iba? at may karapatan paba itong kunin sakin ang katawan ng partner ko kung sakali? Kasi hanggang ngayon ginugulo nya kami kahit my anak na sya sa iba, Kasi hindi pa po daw sila annulled. At Ano po ang maging karapatan ko at ng mga anak namin? lahat po ng mgaanak namin ay nakaapelyedo po sa partner ko..at kung sakali po magpa annulled kami magkano po ang halaga ng annullment? Pwede po bang gawing ground sa annuĺlment ang pagiging lesbian nya? Sana po ay masagot ninyo ang aking mga katanungan.. Lubos na gumagalang, Lanie

    3. Here again it shows the stupidity ot some of those making these laws. It is so easy, the driver should tell all passengers to belt up, then its their responsibility to belt up not the drivers unless its a minor then it is the responsibility of the driver. Try being a taxi driver & telling someone he must belt up or get out, he might belt you the driver. Again it seems the governments of the philippines dont like each individual to take responsibility, its always someone elses job to take responsibility.