Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act is now official
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on February 22 a bill requiring motor vehicle owners to have child restraint systems when traveling with kids. This is known as Republic Act No. 112299 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.
The law reads in part: “It shall be unlawful for the driver of a covered vehicle not to properly secure at all times a child, in a child restraint system while the engine is running or transporting such child on any road, street, or highway unless the child is at least 150 centimeters or 59 inches in height and is properly secured using the regular seat belt. The child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child’s age, height, and weight.”
Mandated to run nationwide information campaigns are the Department of Transportations (DOTr), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd). The campaigns are expected to take place within six months from the passage of the law. The DOTr is also required to submit a period review of the implementation of the law to Congress at the end of the third year from the effective date of the law.
Child restraint systems: what you need to have/do right now
Child restraint systems (CRS) refer to devices that can accommodate a child occupant in a vehicle.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation 129, it is recommended to seat infants in the opposite direction. Babies have weaker neck muscles, the regulation adds, to carry their relatively larger heads. Consequently, even children secured in CRS would be at risk if they are facing forward. This means that infants are now required to be secured in a rear-facing car seat, securely placed in the rear passenger seat, when riding a vehicle.
Notably, RA 112299 prohibits children 12-years-old and below from sitting in the front passenger seat of vehicles while traveling on roads. Its main purpose is to lessen the risk of injury should there be an accident or an abrupt deceleration.
Also, the law requires drivers of both private and public motor vehicles to secure children of at least 150 centimeters in restraint systems while the engine is running on a road, street, or highway.
Moreover, child restraint systems are mandated to have the Philippine Standard mark. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are tasked to ensure that the systems in place meet child safety standards of the United Nations.
Accordingly, suppliers of such restraint systems are subject to the same standards. Any driver who would continue to use expired or substandard system will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second, and P5,000 and suspension of the driver’s third and succeeding infractions.