Wisdom > Passenger

The case for mass license revocation

Sometimes, there are people who don’t deserve second chances

Being 'rattled' is no excuse for nearly killing someone with a car. PHOTO FROM PTV

Much has been said of the recent case involving a driver—since identified as one Jose Antonio Sanvicente—who ran over a security guard/traffic aide on camera before fleeing the scene. Hit-and-runs happen all the time, but one of the key differences here is that the incident was caught on dashcam, allowing positive identification of the vehicle, the owner, and eventually the driver.

Later checks by the Land Transportation Office showed that the same driver had previously been booked for three incidents of reckless driving. Whether that constitutes a pattern of behavior is up to you, but what’s clear is that the guy had a prior record.

I frankly don’t care about law enforcement’s excuses for why, but the fact is that he ran a guy over on camera—without a care as to whether he killed him or not—and, as of this writing, is still walking a free man.

It’s an example, plain as day, that traffic violence is so normalized that people actually think they can get away with it even if there is proof on video. Whatever you feel about the issue, there needs to be some accountability, but why don’t we start with this: We need to get dangerous drivers off our roads. Will anyone debate this? Didn’t think so.

Want to prevent accidents like these? Consider having a stricter penalty system. PHOTO FROM MMDA

The wonderful thing about getting dangerous drivers off our roads is that just one agency could do so much within its power—the LTO, through its ability to revoke drivers’ licenses. The LTO could institute a simple policy that goes something like this…

Starting today, the following guidelines are in effect:

1. Anyone cited for a reckless driving offense has their license preventively suspended subject to a hearing. If they fail to defend their case, their license is suspended for a month. They cannot plead the necessity to keep their license.

2. Anyone cited for a reckless driving offense who also has previously been booked for a reckless driving offense has their license immediately revoked. They may appeal for the remedy of applying for a new license—with a new testing process—but without clearing this past record. If after being granted that license, they are booked for reckless driving again, their license is revoked permanently.

If their first or second reckless driving offense results in permanent disability or death for anyone else, their license is revoked permanently.

3. Anyone booked for driving a motor vehicle under the influence has their license revoked permanently. No ifs or buts.

Think of all the dangerous drivers still on the road right now as your family peacefully drives along. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

This will likely result in mass license revocation, hence the title of this article. Will it be controversial? Sure. But is it not just morally justified, but called for? You’re damn right it is.

Note that this is not a restriction on any constitutional or human rights to freedom of travel or mobility. These are guidelines that govern driving, and to equate driving with freedom of travel is absurd. No one’s right to drive a car is worth more than anyone’s right to enjoy health and safety—no matter how well-connected you may be or how important you think you or your job is. Take public transport, walk or ride a bicycle—majority of Filipinos do one of the three anyway.

You will see this tarpaulin at different LTO branches nationwide, but do people really take this seriously? PHOTO FROM LTO DRIVER'S LICENSE RENEWAL OFFICE (GUADALUPE)

Think about this also: Someone with a record of recklessness and even violence would never be given a license for a gun. In the hands of someone violent, a car is just as deadly as a weapon, and a driver’s license becomes a license to kill. If we are not willing to do something as keeping weapons away from violent people, then all of our advocacy for road safety and safe streets is frankly a load of BS. If you don’t favor taking away a driver’s license from dangerous people, then just stop talking about how much you care. I don’t want to hear it.

I’ve seen some prominent lawmakers pipe up about how indignant they supposedly are at what’s happening in this case. If we need to pass a law to make this happen, the framework to do something about it is right in this article, and I’ll happily help anyone who is serious about fixing this problem.

If we could take away cars from everyone that could or would use them to kill people, not only would it prevent deaths, it would make our streets safer to walk and bike on, and would get more people out of cars into more sustainable modes. It’s a win-win all around, and all it takes is for people in power to have some integrity about the issue.

R. Anthony Siy

Robert is a transportation expert. As in he has a degree in Transport Economics. So yes, you can trust his thoughts on public conveyance. He believes that smarter policy and planning can make cities better for motorists and nonmotorists alike. He pens the ‘Passenger’ column.