There has been much talk and turmoil regarding new laws that may or may not outlaw everything from license plate covers to adjustable coilovers and everything in between. It’s been a long time since I’ve put thought to screen, and this, I think, merits a comeback.
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now – I am as confused as anyone about what exactly the new laws allow or disallow. In my defense, without any clearly defined instructions, I doubt anyone else can make heads or tails of the regulations either. I should also put on the record that I am a part of the aftermarket industry, as a seller of aftermarket parts. But I’m not about to try to make sense of Department Order 2010-32 or make claims on what the laws should be. Instead, I want to appeal to those who are in the position to implement the laws of the land to think about the motorists who have to live with these government mandates. I’d like to point out five things that I hope will be considered, for the sake of the regular Joe, or in our case, Juan de la Cruz. Because like most of you, I am a motorist, and I love cars.
First, it would be best to let the people understand what the law is supposed to address. Safety? Security? Both are fine. If the law is meant to prevent individuals from concealing their plates to avoid identification, that makes sense. Likewise if the idea is to prevent substandard parts from being installed or unsafe modifications done. Once the spirit of the laws are clear, the laws can then be drafted. Like a roadtrip, you can only pick a route, plan your stops and figure out the schedule once you have decided on a destination.
Second, please be clear and concise with the laws. In my time in the auto glass industry, I assisted with the drafting and revision of the PNS (Philippine National Standard) 130 for automotive glass (as well as PNS 193 for flat glass). The standard is long, with several tables and referenced documents. It made several classifications of glass, depending on their use and location, and each was assigned different standardized tests that addressed the safety concerns appropriate to the application.
If it sounds like a lot of work, it was. I played a very small role (the actual draft was written by a Technical Committee), but it was tedious. I realize that a Standard, even one mandated by DTI, isn’t the same as a law. But by nature, laws should be precise, detailed and objective. Any gray areas or sections with the potential for misinterpretation should be revised so that it is easily understood and easily enforced. The general population will follow, if we know what exactly to follow.
Third, when making the rules, get the input of the automotive community, which includes regular motorists, journalists, industry experts and even academe. Going back to the glass industry, universities, manufacturers representatives (such as myself), and industry associations were invited to roundtable discussions before new rules were implemented.
For example, a blanket statement of High-Intensity Discharge lighting (or HIDs) being unsafe is misleading. In fact, most manufacturers use HIDs as standard precisely because they provide advantages to traditional halogen bulbs. However, the way HIDs are used and the specification of the bulbs are what should be regulated. OEM HIDs are typically 4200 to 4300 kelvin, and are always used with projector headlamps, to focus the beam of light. It would then make sense that HIDs that follow the OEM usage should be allowed.
Fourth, please be able to properly regulate and implement the law. A simple example is the anti-smoke belching law. Violations get handed out without the use of proper equipment. Sometimes you have an emissions tester, sometimes you don’t. And most times that a tester is present, it’s not calibrated. To add to the confusion, each municipality or city have different standards. So how is a motorist supposed to obey the law if the law is so easily adjusted and changed depending on the time and place it’s being implemented? I am sure there will be many more law-abiding citizens if the law was consistent.
Fifth and last, if the intent of a law is to ensure the safety and road-worthiness of a vehicle, then why not look at the big picture. I don’t see anything wrong with regulating aftermarket modifications, at least in principle. It’s a common practice throughout the world and has obvious benefits to road safety, reliability and the environment. The trouble is, the aftermarket is not the sector that contributes most to these exact things – road safety, reliability and the environment. What about implementing a stricter checks on roadworthiness of all vehicles – private cars, public transport, commercial vehicles – before registration renewals are issued, much like it is done in Europe? Things like tire wear, fluid leaks, and mechanical integrity have more to do with road safety than a car with lowering springs that are well made and certified. The condition of the engine oil has just as much impact on the environment as a shiny stainless steel exhaust. Aftermarket wheels that pass numerous safety tests are far less likely to cause an accident than a leaky brake system.
I am a guy who loves to modify cars. For the last 18 years, I’ve modified my car in many ways, and not once have any aftermarket add-ons caused an accident, or caused the car to break down. I am also a law-abiding citizen, and I will obey the laws of the land. I just hope the laws of the land are designed to protect me, and not hinder me.