Republic Act (RA) 11229 known as the “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act” was signed into law by President Duterte on February 22, 2019, and released by the Presidential Legislative Liason Office only last month.
Under Section 2 of RA 11229, it is the declared policy of the State “to ensure the safety of Children while being transported in any form of motor vehicle. The State recognizes the right of children to protection from all forms of neglect, abuse and other conditions prejudicial to their development, including exposure to safety risks while aboard motor vehicles.”
A “Child” is defined as any person 12 years old and below. “Adult” refers to any person 18 years old and above. “Covered vehicle” refers to both private and public motor vehicle, public-utility vehicle or vehicle for hire. “Child Restraint System” refers to a devise capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position (Section 3).
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 150 centimeters or 59 inches in height, and is properly secured using the regular seat belt. The child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child’s age, height and weight, and approved by the Department of Trade and Industry in compliance with standards set forth in United Nations Regulations 44 and 129. These requirements shall not apply to circumstances where the child restraint system would put such child in a greater danger, such as:
1. During medical emergencies;
2. When the child transported has a medical or developmental condition; or
3. Other analogous circumstances prescribed under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR).
Notwithstanding the child being secured in a child restraint system, at no instance shall such child be left unaccompanied by an adult (18 years old and above) in a motor vehicle (Section 4).
No child 12 years of age and below shall be allowed to sit in a front seat of a motor vehicle with a running engine, or while such child is being transported on any road, street or highway, unless the child meets the height requirement set forth in Section 4, and is properly secured using the regular seat belt in the front seat (Section 5).
Any driver found violating this law shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 and the suspension of the driver’s license for one year for the third and succeeding offenses.
The law is also in accordance with the international standards set by the UN. All manufacturers, importers, distributors and sellers of child restraint system are required to follow the standards set by the UN on child restraints.
Any driver who allows the use of substandard and/or expired child restraint system or permits the use of child restraint system that does not bear the Philippine Standard mark shall also be slapped with the same penalties. Tampering of the PS mark or Import Clearance Certificate sticker shall be punished with a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000 for each and every child restraint system product.
Mandatory compliance with the law shall only be enforced one year after the effectivity of its IRR. Various government agencies, led by the Department of Transportation shall come up with the IRR six months from the effectivity of the law. The DOTr is also tasked to study and make recommendations on the possible use of child restraint systems in public-utility vehicles.
The law repeals Section 5 of RA 8750 or the “Seat Belts Use Act of 1999” which states that infants and/or children six years old and below shall be prohibited to sit in the front seat of any running motor vehicle. The new law has increased this age to 12 years and below.
In a statement issued by the World Health Organization, President Duterte was lauded for signing into law RA 11229, which makes the Philippines among the few countries in Asia to pass child restraint legislation. The WHO cited statistics indicating that in the Philippines, more than 600 children die from road crashes each year (Philippine News Agency, March 13, 2019).
It is hoped that unlike the “Seat Belts Use Act of 1999” which is honored more in its breach than its observance, the “child safety in motor vehicles law” will strictly be followed and enforced, and offenders be penalized for violations thereof.
Our infants and young children deserve to be safe at all times from deaths and serious injuries caused by road crashes and traffic related incidents, such as over speeding, drunk and distracted driving, and lack of discipline.
They have a right to live long!