Last Sunday, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced that it will soon start the implementation of the law on the mandatory use of child restraint systems (CRS) or child car seats while inside motor vehicles. So, parents and guardians, it’s time to familiarize yourself with what you need to know about the child car seat law.
Q: What is the law all about?
A: President Rodrigo Duterte actually signed the Republic Act 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act last February 2019, but DOTr announced they would start implementing mandatory compliance with the law.
Under this law, children are no longer allowed to sit in the front seat or to be left without adult supervision inside a motor vehicle. Children are also required to use child restraint systems that are appropriate for their age, height, and weight.
Q: Why is the law being implemented?
A: This law was created to prioritize the safety of children in moving vehicles and to prevent injuries and deaths for children in case of an accident.
The World Health Organization encourages the use of CRS as they can reduce the risk of injury for infants and children up to 80%, especially for children 0 to 4 years old. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, an average of 667 children aged 14 years and below died every year from 2006 to 2015 due to vehicle accidents.
Q: What age is covered by the law?
A: The law applies to all children aged 12 years and below, with a few exceptions.
Q: What are the exemptions?
A: One concern most parents may have is if their child is taller than the usual height for their age. In such cases, a child may be exempted from the law if they are at least 150 centimeters or 4 feet and 11 inches in height. According to the law, children with a height taller than the given measurement can be “properly secured using a regular seatbelt.”
Other than height, the only other cases that can be exempted from the law are cases in which (1) the child has a medical or developmental condition or (2) there is a medical emergency.
Q: Does this law cover all vehicles?
A: No. At the moment, only private motor vehicles, as determined by DOTr, must comply with the law, but public utility vehicles (PUVs) may soon follow. Bikes, tricycles, and motorcycles would not be required to comply.
Private car owners must install child car seats that follow the standards of United Nations Regulation No. 44 and 129 and are approved by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Land Transportation Office (LTO) will be setting up CRS fitting and installation areas that are accredited by the agency, according to director Clarence Guinto.
Q: How will this law work for public utility vehicles?
A: While PUVs may eventually be required to comply, under the same law, the DOTr is also required to first conduct a study on use and feasibility of using child car seats in PUVs. If their findings are satisfactory, then they may raise a recommendation for PUVs to require child car seats to Congress.
Q: What are the penalties?
A: Car owners who violate the law may be given the following penalty:
- PHP 1,000 for the first offense;
- PHP 2,000 for the second offense; and
- PHP 5,000 and a one-year suspension of driver’s license for the third and succeeding offenses.
Meanwhile, manufacturers, distributors, importers, and retailers may be fined a hefty PHP 50,000 to PHP 100,000 should they be found to have sold substandard or tampered CRS.
Q: When does this law take effect?
A: Originally, the law was supposed to be fully implemented on February 2, 2021. However, on the same day, the DOTr released a statement saying that they will postpone the full enforcement of the law during the pandemic, and that they may revisit the age and height of children to be covered, the standard car seat, and penalties imposed on violators.
“Both the DOTr and LTO are in agreement that a deferment of the full implementation/enforcement of this new rule is warranted, especially given our current economic situation amid this still raging pandemic,” read the statement.
According to LTO, they will not be conducting apprehensions or issuing tickets within the first six months. According to Roberto Valera, deputy director of LTO Law Enforcement, the agency will first disseminate information and educate all parties involved, especially drivers and parents.
What do you think of this child car seat law?