Right of way – we usually hear (even shout!) these three words when we come across drivers who think they own the road. Unfortunately, majority of drivers on the road today haven’t got the slightest idea of what ‘right of way’ really means, and the fact that it’s an actual law.
Who can blame them? Many driving schools in the Philippines don’t even discuss the basic road rules, and if they do, then you’d have to pay for additional sessions.
Read up as we sum up Republic Act No. 4136, Article III, Section 42 to 44 AKA the Land Transportation and Traffic Code – Right of Way and Signals; hoping that this article can educate you, dear readers (and drivers), about this important road rule.
What is the right of way?
It’s basically who has the right to go first at an intersection, when merging lanes, or when coming across a pedestrian lane as defined by the law. More importantly, it’s about giving way to the other party as a sense of courtesy and a practice of road safety.
When do you give the right of way?
- Arriving at an intersection
Crossing an intersection without any working stop light or traffic enforcer can be tricky. Here’s how you should cross an intersection safely according to the law: when you’re arriving at an intersection, always remember that you must give way to vehicles inside the crossroad or yellow box.
In the instance you arrive at an intersection at the same time with another car, the vehicle on your right hand side will have the right of way. You should allow cars turning left across the lanes to go first, provided that the driver is visibly signalling its intention to turn. However, if the other driver is driving at an “unlawful speed” then their “right of way” is void.
Driving in a heavily populated area such as a residential or business area can be challenging considering the pedestrians. Luckily, the law can guide us how to traverse these areas safely with the help of the right of way.
RA No. 4136, Article III, Section 42 (c) states that the driver of any vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing any road as long as they are within a crosswalk. That’s unless there’s a traffic enforcer or traffic signal in place then the movement of traffic will be determined by the enforcer or stop light. Pedestrians crossing elsewhere, on the other hand, will have to give the right of way to the vehicle.
It goes without saying that going through a railroad crossing a la The Fast and the Furious is reckless and dangerous to yourself and others. The law says that drivers should bring their vehicles to a full stop before crossing or drive at a slow pace of 8 km/H if there are no hazards.
- Police and other emergency vehicles
Upon the approach of emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks when on official duty and giving an audible sound (e.g. siren and horn), drivers must immediately (yet safely) drive towards the side of the road and remain stopped to allow it to pass. Vehicles shall remain stationary until the emergency vehicle has passed.
In case a driver fails to give the right of way to emergency vehicles, Article V, Section 49 of the Land Transportation and Traffic Code dictates that a fine of not less than P25 to P50 will be handed to offenders.
Like most laws in the Philippines, there are certain situations wherein drivers have to automatically give the right of way to others. Cars merging into a highway from a private road must yield to those who are already traversing the highway.
In addition, those who are entering an intersection with a stop sign should literally stop for all vehicles in either direction. Let those cars pass, signal your approach by blowing the horn, and make sure the road is clear before proceeding.
Never assume or insist that you have the right of way on the road as this law was made for everyone’s safety in mind. That few seconds waiting behind the traffic light or giving way to others is certainly better than being involved in an accident that could injure or, worse, kill you.