A friend of my father-in-law approached me to ask if there have been studies on requiring Philippine drivers to get personal insurance before being issued a driver’s license. I replied that I am unaware of any study or studies on this topic. I told him, though, that there have been discussions to require bus and trucks drivers to get certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to drive these large vehicles. The certification is the same required in other countries for foreign drivers seeking working in those countries. And so, prospective OFW drivers would have to take up the certification course at TESDA in order to qualify as drivers in other countries. These discussions were made at DOTC together with the LTO and the TESDA prior to 2010. Since then, I have no knowledge if such discussions were continued or if someone or some group pursued this. Based on what we see now on our roads where buses and trucks have been involved in many road crashes, I can only conclude that the certification initiative was not pursued for one reason or another.
The reason I was asked whether there were studies on the topic of driver insurance is that the person is part of a group (he didn’t reveal it to me and I didn’t ask him about the name) seeking for a bill to be filed for this insurance to be required prior to being given a license to drive. He told me that this is based on the system in the US, where prospective drivers are required to get insurance as a prerequisite to being issued a license to drive. The premium for the insurance is dependent on the record of the driver and increases significantly with the person’s involvement in a road crash where he or she is proven as the guilty party. The premium also increases when drivers are found to have violated traffic rules and regulations, and the data based on citations or tickets issued by apprehending officers are transmitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which is the equivalent of our Land Transportation Office (LTO). The idea is for drivers involved in crashes or frequently violated traffic rules and regulations to be charged a higher premium until a point when there will be no legitimate companies willing to insure the driver because of his record. Alternatively, the driver might be forced to give up on driving because he or she could no longer afford the steep premium resulting from his/her own actions on the road.
This is actually a good idea and one that probably is worth looking into in more detail by our LTO if it is to use this as a way to reduce errant drivers on the road. I would propose that higher premiums should be required of public transport drivers who would be responsible for a lot of lives. Truck drivers can have their premiums dependent on what kind of trucks they drive. Perhaps higher premiums are for those driving tankers or lorries carrying sensitive or high value freight. The bottom line, of course, is how such a system can be operationalised or implemented. There is also that thing about enforcement and the sharing of information between apprehending entities (e.g., PNP, local police or local government staff) and the LTO for the data required to assess a driver’s record whenever he or she renews his or her license. There will always be loopholes and/or fixers somewhere but these should not deter the authorities from seeking a better system than what we have now where drivers can “get away with murder” sometimes quite literally.