MANILA, Philippines – With a vote of 20-0, the Senate on Monday, October 8, approved on 3rd and final reading a bill that requires private vehicles to install special car seats for children.
Senate Bill 1971 will require children aged 12 years and younger to be in a child restraint system inside a private vehicle when traveling.
A child restraint system, built for children from 0 to 12 years of age, is designed to reduce the risk of injury in the event of a collision by limiting the mobility of the child's body. (READ: Seat belts are not enough for infants and children)
The bill also seeks to prohibit children from sitting in the front passenger seat, unless the child is at least 150 centimeters (4 foot and 8 inches) tall. The height restriction follows the standard dimension to be able to fit a regular seat belt in the front seat.
It also seeks to prohibit an adult companion from leaving children unattended inside vehicles. (READ: A child car seat system: An extra expense to protect a life)
Under the measure, violators will be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 and suspension of driver's license for a year for the 3rd and succeeding offenses.
The counterpart measure at the House of Representatives was approved in February. A bicameral conference committee would be convened to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill.
After that, the measure would be sent to Malacañang for President Rodrigo Duterte's signature.
In the Philippines alone, an average of more than 600 children died in road crashes every year from 2006 to 2014.
According to the World Health Organization, the system can reduce risk of injury by up to 80% for children aged 0 to 4 in a rear-facing restraint. Children aged 0 to 4 with only a seat belt can change the risk of injury only by 32%. – Rappler.com