So the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is caught off guard regarding the repercussions of the enforcement of rules for modified vehicles. They do not have any implementing guidelines whatsoever. The LTO has now earned the ire and the hatred of most of the 4×4 community.
To me it’s a simple solution. Other countries already have their regulations, why not review it with parties involved and come out with one that is practical and applicable to our country as a whole? For Australia, they have the VSB 14 (Vehicle Standards Bulletin #14).It covers 4×4 modifications. It has tackled regulations. Other countries like the UK, also have their own. It tackles pretty common modifications such as:
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1. Tire size – it only allows for one to install a maximum of 50 mm (about 2 inches) more than the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) tires. Note that this is more sensible than rim size which the LTO has specified, after all, you can change your rim size and get a lower series tire to get the equivalent outside OEM diameter. You get more stability during cornering – so that is safer in my book. On the other side of the scale, I can still use a 15 inch wheels same as OEM and install a 37 inch-tire. That is an obvious loophole.
2. Lift -the VSB 14 only allows a maximum of 50mm (2 inches) lift from OEM height. This is sensible as we do not want a high center of gravity. Real off roaders know that they can only go so high so as not to make the rig unstable during road use and more importantly during off road. Show cars and por by porma are the only ones who go extremely high on vehicle lifts. The show cars are of course only used during events and refitted back to practical lift height if so intended for daily use. Por by porma on the other hand, simply just do not care.
3. The VSB 14 did not elaborate on steel bumpers – As I have mentioned in my last article, the LTO just needs to set the guidelines which are practical and applicable in our country. Do note however, that the jeepney, triciycle, bus and kuliglig do not care about pedestrian safety at all — which only reinforces the idea that they need to focus on this matter if they intend to make our roads a bit more safer, not only because of modified 4x4s but because of all motor vehicles. You might find that regulating the steel bumper is just like the UN regulating nuclear weapons on earth. It is a question asking a choice between me and my family’s safety over the safety of other road users. Honestly, I would be willing to stand down with my steel bumper if we will all (and I mean ALL) drive around with cars made out of marshmallows.
4. Vehicle lighting – our existing rules covers the regulations for lights, more or less, and just needs more refinement and more on implementation. After all, the regulation’s origins is from the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. For me it is very simple, If you can see the oncoming vehicle driver’s face squinting then your lights are some or all of the following:
a. Switched on high / pass – then dim it down, idiot. If you cannot see the road when you dim down, remove the tints on your windshield. Your skin will not shine like diamonds, I assure you.
b. Too bright / glaring – aftermarket HIDs / LEDs and halogens coming from China and the installer is clueless about road safety.
c. Not focused properly – this can be a DIY, read your owner’s manual on how to adjust or just bring it to the shops. When all the beam of light is focused on the oncoming vehicle driver’s face, you wont be able to see the road no matter how bright your lights are.
It all boils down to road courtesy.
5. Engine modifications – offroaders rarely go overboard with engine modifications. If their rigs are modded, you can be sure it is done for ease of use for both on road and of road applications. Power does not make much sense most of the time in offroading, unless its a competition rig.
In conclusion, I want the LTO to know that vehicle modifications, when applied to daily driven cars, are self-regulating. I, for one, will not want to drive everyday that 4×4 with the 42.5 inches TSL Bogger tires with 16 inch-lift, or that car with hellaflush and bosozoku exhaust modifications as it will be cumbersome and impractical in EDSA. Its common sense. A responsible vehicle owner will automatically consider safety and practicality.
But since this is the Philippines where kayabangan is king, and walang basagan ng trip is the accepted norm, who knows what we will see on our roads claiming legal use? We had an illegal government way back 1986…… and hang on to it as if it was the golden age of democracy, need I say more?
Hard hat, coveralls and safety shoes….. that’s my life.