Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act: What Parents Must Know

Published: November 20, 2018 | Updated: April 2, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Car Insurance

Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act

Did you hear about the viral video of a two-year-old kid left alone inside a vehicle parked in Metrowalk, Pasig last July? Perhaps, you’re one of the netizens who took pity of the poor boy and posted outrage on Facebook.

An incident like this makes child passenger safety all the more important and urgent in the Philippines. As a parent, you’re mainly responsible for keeping your kids safe while traveling. For its part, the government must ensure all parents and guardians in the Philippines are actually doing that.

We’re seeing some progress lately, as the Senate approved the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1971)[1]. The bill, once signed into law, will ensure the safety of children aged 12 and below riding in vehicles, as well as protect them injury and death caused by car accidents.

What does the proposed law allow and prohibit? Here are the key points of the bill that every parent should know.

Required Use of Child Car Seats in Private Vehicles

child restraint system
Requiring the use of child restraint systems in vehicles is one of the driving laws that need to be implemented in the Philippines. This is finally included in the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.

Why Child Restraint Systems are Important

Installing car seats for your young passengers costs from PHP 1,000 to not more than PHP 40,000. But the investment is very much worth it, considering how child restraint systems limit the movement of a child’s body during a car collision.

In fact, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety, child car seats lower the risk of death or injury by 80%. The WHO also notes that wearing only a seat belt reduces the risk by just 32%.

What Types of Vehicles are Covered?

The bill makes child restraints or special car seats for children mandatory for all private vehicles.

As for public utility vehicles, the Department of Transportation will be tasked to issue rules and regulations on the use of child restraint systems in jeeps, buses, school buses, taxis, and vans.

Motorcycles and tricycles aren’t covered by this provision. The bill also doesn’t state anything about using child restraint systems in airplanes. Airlines like the Philippine Airlines, though, encourage customers to bring their own on flights with infants or children.

What is the Best Car Seat for Your Child?

To prevent anyone from using poor-quality child car seats, the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act requires the use of child restraint systems with a Philippine Standards (PS) seal or an Import Clearance Certificate (ICC) sticker.

Under the bill, parents and guardians must use a car seat that suits a child’s age, weight, and height. To know the right type of car seat to buy for your children, use the online car seat finder tool[2] of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Simply enter your child’s birthdate, height, and weight.

The NHTSA recommends the following types of car seats based on a child’s age and size:

  • Newborn to three years old: Rear-facing seats
  • Four to seven years old: Forward-facing seats
  • Eight to 12 years old: Booster seats

Other things to consider when buying an appropriate child car seat[3] include the space in your car’s back seat, the car manufacturer’s child restraint installation requirements, and durability. A child restraint system must not only fit your kid but also fit your vehicle and be installed properly.

No Children Left Alone in Vehicles

The Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act bans drivers from leaving children alone inside a vehicle, whether the car is stationary or moving and even if the kids are in a proper car seat. Whether the bill will be approved into law or not, children must never be left unattended in a car—not even for a few seconds. Being forgetful isn’t an excuse.

Leaving kids alone in a vehicle is very risky[4]: they can die from heat stroke or get kidnapped. The car might also be set in motion, which could lead to an accident.

No Child Passenger in the Front Seat

Children shorter than 150 cm. (59 in. or 4’11”) will not be allowed to sit in a vehicle’s passenger seat when the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act becomes a law.

Currently, an existing law (the Seat Belts Use Act or Republic Act 8750)[5] bans children six years old and below from sitting in the front seat of any vehicle.

So make sure your children below 13 years old always sit in the back seat for their safety.

Read more:

Penalties for Violators

Once the bill is signed into law, drivers caught violating its provisions will face any of the following penalties:

  • First offense: PHP 1,000 fine
  • Second offense: PHP 2,000 fine
  • Third and succeeding offenses: PHP 5,000 fine and a one-year suspension of driver’s license

Final Thoughts

The Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act will go through the bicameral conference committee to come up with a consolidated version. The House of Representatives has earlier approved its own version of the bill. Once the Congress and Senate ratify the final version, it will go to President Rodrigo Duterte for signing into law.
With or without a child passenger safety law, parents and guardians must always prioritize children’s safety when traveling. This way, kids won’t be put at risk on the road, just like the boy in the viral video.
comprehensive car insurance