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Child safety in cars is now officially required by law

Things to remember if you’re transporting a kid by vehicle

Yes, car seats are an added expense, but they can save the lives of your kids. Can’t put a price on that. PHOTO FROM FORD

It doesn’t take much to see that the safety of children is a common oversight in Philippine motoring, whether private or public. Fortunately, Republic Act 11229, or the “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act,” is now a law after having been approved by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 22, 2019. This Act aims to elevate the safety of infants and children who are transported in a motor vehicle, and thus prevent accident-related injuries or death among kids.

Under this law, a child is technically defined as a person aged 12 years or below, with a height of 150cm or 59in (4ft, 11in) or under.

So, what does this mean for private motor vehicle owners?

It means, first and foremost, that there now exists the mandatory use of child safety restraint systems in vehicles that transport children, whether said vehicles are in motion or simply idling. The child safety car seat used must be appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight. Furthermore, no child shall be allowed to occupy the front seat/seats of any vehicle—unless the child is taller than 59in. Also, it is now illegal to leave a child unaccompanied or unattended inside a motor vehicle.

Children are much safer at the back of the car, not in front with you. Properly secured, of course. PHOTO FROM VOLVO

Child safety restraint systems are devices approved by the Department of Trade and Industry. They are child safety car seats that have passed standards set by the United Nations. Any child restraint device used prior to the approval of this Act shall be deemed valid as long as it isn’t outdated (which means the device must bear the Philippine Standards mark or the Importer Clearance Certificate issued by the Bureau of Philippine Standards).

The penalties for drivers or car owners who fail to use a child safety car seat in the vehicle—or who leave a child alone in a vehicle—are the following:

  • First offense – P1,000
  • Second offense – P2,000
  • Third and succeeding offenses – P5,000 and license suspension for one year

The penalties for manufacturers, distributors, importers and sellers who offer substandard child safety car seats are the following:

  • Minimum – P50,000
  • Maximum – P100,000

The penalties for drivers or car owners who allow the use of substandard child safety car seats are the following:

  • First offense – P1,000
  • Second offense – P3,000
  • Third and succeeding offenses – P5,000 and license suspension for one year
Your kid is so much more precious than anything you can load inside your car. Remember that. PHOTO FROM PIXABAY

Children who have a medical condition or are transported during a medical emergency are exempted.

So, if you haven’t been using a child safety car seat for your kids, it’s time to get one and develop in them the habit and practice of being safe at all times. You should do this not just to avoid being penalized, but more so to protect the lives of your precious ones.

Republic Act 11229 shall take effect 15 days after its publication on the Official Gazette website. Since the announcement was uploaded to the site last March 13, the law could be effective as early as March 28 (although “mandatory compliance” shall only be enforced “one year after the effectivity” of the implementing rules and regulations). You have been duly notified.

Manskee Nascimento

Manskee is a music-loving petrolhead who specializes in car care. He finds peace in long drives to and from his home in La Union.