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No child car seats? DOTr says no fines amid pandemic

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Tuesday, February 2, that motorists should not worry about being fined due to lack of a child car seat as no one will be penalized in consideration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Libiran said the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will focus on a massive information campaign first, before the strict implementation of the law requiring car seats for children aboard private vehicles.

"The law on child safety in motor vehicles is effective as of today. But we will not strictly impose fines and penalties if we don't see a child restraint system," Libiran said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"As Secretary Arthur Tugade said, in consideration of our situation now, during the pandemic, there won't be any apprehensions."

Libiran said the LTO has set a grace period of around 3 to 6 months.

Republic Act No. 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act covers children 12 years old and below aboard private vehicles. Children below 4 feet and 11 inches are not allowed to sit in the front seat and a restraint system appropriate for a child's height, weight, and age must be installed in private vehicles.

Children with a height of above 4 feet and 11 inches are exempted from using the special car seats.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Steve Pastor, citing Philippine Statistics Authority data, said that around 12,000 children 19 years old and below died due to road crash incidents from 2006 to 2014. This is equivalent to around 1,000 deaths a year, he added.

One of the considerations pointed out by the public on the implementation of the law is the price of a car seat – which starts at P4,000 – and the lack of options in the market. The LTO earlier said it is working with the trade department to look for manufacturers and businesses interested in this.

LTO chief Edgar Galvante appealed to the public not to wait for the strict implementation of the law to buy booster seats for their children.

"Let's not wait for something bad to happen before we act. Let's err on the side of caution," said Galvante in a mix of English and Filipino.

What about in PUVs?

Under the law, the DOTr should conduct a study on whether public utility vehicles (PUVs) should have child car seats as well.

"Ngayon, kung ito ay feasible, kailangan mag-submit ng DOTr recommendation to Congress para ito ay kanilang mapag-aralan at maisabatas din. Sa ngayon, sa private motor vehicles muna," Libiran said.

(Now, if it's feasible, the DOTr needs to submit a recommendation to Congress for lawmakers to study it and it could be passed into law. For now, the rule only covers private vehicles.) – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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