The implementation of the Republic Act No. 11229, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, will be in full swing starting February 2, 2021. As such, the mandatory use of a child restrain system, or a child car seat, in motor vehicles is now required by the law.
Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act now implemented
RA 11229 states that children 12 years and below are not allowed to occupy the front seats in private vehicles. Children 12 years and below are instead mandated to be seated in child restrain systems or car seats. A child or an individual can occupy the front seat if he/she is at least 150 cm or 4’11” tall, and is properly secured using the regular seat belt.
In an interview over DZMM Teleradyo, LTO-NCR director Clarence Guinto suggested car owners that have three children and currently own a small five-seater vehicle could consider getting a larger vehicle. The reason for this is that only two child car seats can be accommodated on the rear seats of a small five-seater vehicle.
Moreover, Guinto said that children aged 12 years and under are not allowed to be seated in the front passenger seat "with or without car seat." Guinto wasn't able to clarify that RA 11229 states that a child or an individual can occupy the front seat if he/she is at least 150 cm or 4’11” tall.
Take note of the height requirement [Photo: Buckle Up Kids PH Facebook]
The Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act was signed and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 22, 2019. The implementing rules and regulations of the said law state that violators will be fined Php 1,000 for the first offense; Php 2,000 for the second offense; and Php 5,000 as well as a 1-year suspension of the driver’s license for the third and succeeding offenses.
Authorities will not yet apprehend violators of the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act for the time being. Land Transportation Office (LTO) deputy director of law enforcement service Robert Valera said that the agency will not yet apprehend violators. The LTO will instead be doing information dissemination that will last for three to six months.
Of note, RA 11229 is not mandating the use of a child car seat in situations such as medical emergencies; or when the child transported has a medical or developmental condition or other similar circumstances.
However, private vehicle owners can’t just use any child car seat as RA 11229 requires that a child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child’s age, height, and weight. Speaking of which, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is mandated to use the standards set forth in United Nations Regulation 44 and United Nations Regulation 129.
Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act is now in full swing
The said standards will be DTI’s guideline in approving of the child car seats that will be manufactured and sold in the Philippines. The standards are said to be “periodically updated” based on current United Nations Regulations concerning Child Restraint Systems.
Therefore, all manufacturers, importers, and distributors of child car seats are required to secure from the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) a Philippine Standards (PS) mark license or Import Clearance Certificate (ICC) license before selling the products. RA 11229 added that the BPS shall issue periodically a list of child restraint systems manufacturers, importers, and distributors, and the brands which pass its standards.
In line with this, any manufacturers, importers, and distributors of child car seats that violate the law will be slapped with a fine of Php 50,000 up to Php 100,000.
How about in public utility vehicles?
On the other hand, RA 11229 is mandating the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to conduct a study in regards to the use of child car seats in public utility vehicles such as jeepneys, buses, including school buses, taxis, vans, among others.
The DOTr shall submit its study and give its recommendations to Congress. If the study concluded that child car seats are not applicable, the DOTr shall “recommend to Congress other safety measures and/or regulations for the safe and secure transportation of children” in public utility vehicles.
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