MANILA, Philippines – A new law will soon prohibit drivers from transporting children without their seat belt on. The same law makes it illegal for children of a certain height to sit in the front seat of a running car or be left in a car unattended by an adult.
This new law, the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act or Republic Act No 11229, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 22. It was released to the public on Wednesday, March 13.
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Effectivity, coverage, definitions
However, its penalties on errant drivers will only be imposed a year after the finalization of the law's implementing rules and regulations.
The new safeguards cover all children, or those below 12 years old. It also covers all motor vehicles, private or public, including motorcycles and tricycles.
"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 one hundred fifty (150) centimeters or fifty-nine (59) inches in height and is properly secured using a regular seat belt," the law said.
It defined a child restraint system as a device "capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position."
"It is so designed as to diminish the risk of injury to the wearer, in the event of a collision or of abrupt deceleration of the vehicle, by limiting the mobility of the child's body," the law also said.
However, a child restraint system may not be used in times when it could cause more harm to the child such as during medical emergencies or when the child has certain developmental conditions that might make it risky.
It will also be illegal to allow a child to sit in front of a motor vehicle while the engine is running or when the vehicle is traversing any road, street, or highway. This will only be allowed if the child's height is 150 centimeters or 59 inches, in which case they have to have a regular seatbelt on.
Drivers found violating the new law will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 plus the suspension of driver's license for one year for the third offense and succeeding offenses.
It will be the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) that will ensure child restraint systems meet the safety standards of the United Nations. All manufacturers of child restraint systems have to comply with such standards.
Meanwhile, both the DTI and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) will formulate and implement a certification training program to teach product inspectors, law enforcers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of child restraint systems on the regulation, installation, use, maintance, and inspection of child restraint systems. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.