Herrera pushes bill to boost road safety, ease tollway congestion

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(PNA file photo)

MANILA – House Deputy Minority Leader and Bagong Henerasyon Party-List Rep. Bernadette Herrera on Thursday called for swift approval of a bill that categorizes non-payment of toll fees as a traffic violation and mandates automated cashless toll collection to enhance road safety and alleviate tollway congestion, especially during peak holiday seasons.

In a statement, Herrera said House Bill No. 8161, which she filed in May this year, emerged from the compelling need to improve road safety and streamline traffic flow within the nation’s tollways.

She pointed out that an integral provision in the bill designates non-payment of toll fees as a traffic violation, complete with associated fines and penalties, aiming to discourage any deliberate or accidental evasion of toll payments that could lead to traffic gridlock and accidents.

“By making non-payment of toll fees a traffic violation, we are sending a clear message that traffic rules must be followed. This is a fundamental step in ensuring the safety of our tollways,” Herrera said.

The bill enforces strict penalties for violations: the initial offense carries a PHP1,000 fine and a one-month driver’s license suspension; while on the second violation, the fine doubles to PHP2,000 and a three-month suspension.

For a third violation, the fine increases to PHP5,000 and a six-month suspension, and subsequent infringements automatically result in a one-year license suspension.

Fines collected through these penalties are directed towards the maintenance of road safety signage and enhancements in tollway enforcement, ultimately nurturing safer and more efficient road systems.

The measure also proposes the mandatory use of standardized Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) systems across all tollways in the country, with the aim of streamlining toll collection and enhancing the experience for commuters, motorists, and businesses.

“Automated cashless toll collection is more than just a convenience, it’s a way to reduce traffic congestion, especially during peak holiday seasons,” Herrera said.

The proposed legislation also introduces innovative tolling systems such as Open Road Tolling (ORT) and Multi-Lane Fast Flow (MLFF) tolling, enabling toll fee collection without the need for vehicles to halt at toll booths, provided they have a functioning RFID tag and sufficient funds in the corresponding account.

The party-list lawmaker said the successful implementation of ORT and MLFF tolling systems in other Asian countries serves as a strong precedent for their adoption in the Philippines, where they have notably alleviated traffic congestion and enhanced the travel experience for the public.

She cited Taiwan as a prime example of the MLFF system fully in operation, where vehicles don’t have to reduce speed like those in Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

“This bill also aims to strengthen the enforcement of tollway traffic rules, including speeding, reckless driving, overloading, and non-payment of toll fees,” she said.

“Our highways and expressways are the lifeblood of our transportation network. With this bill, we’re taking significant strides to make them safer and more efficient,” Herrera added. (PNA)

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