President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law mandating special protection for child passengers in motor vehicles.
Duterte signed Republic Act 11229 (Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act) on February 22, nearly a month after the enrolled bill was transmitted on January 24 to Malacañang for his approval.
The law mandates drivers to secure a child 12 years old and below in a child restraint system while on the road, street or highway.
A child restraint system refers to a device capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position designed to diminish the risk of injury in the event of a collision or of abrupt deceleration of the vehicle by limiting the mobility of the child's body.
The child restraint system should be appropriate to the child's age, height and weight and approved in accordance with safety standards for child restraint system.
The law does not require the use of child restraint system in cases that would put the child in greater danger such as during medical emergencies, when the child transported has a medical or developmental condition, or other analogous circumstances.
Children are prohibited from sitting at the front seat of the vehicles, unless the child is at least 150 centimeters or 56 inches in height and capable to properly fit in the regular seat belt in the front seat.
“The State recognizes the right of children to assistance, including proper care and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse and other conditions prejudicial to their development, including exposure to safety risks while aboard motor vehicles,” the law stated.
The Philippine Statistics Authority said an average of 667 children—those 14 years old and below—died every year from 2006 to 2015 in vehicle accidents.
The measure further mandates the Department of Transportation to adopt safety measures and issue regulations for the safe and secure transportation of children using public utility vehicles.
A driver found violating the 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.
Tampering, alteration, forgery and imitation of the PS mark or Import Clearance Certificate (ICC) sticker is punishable by a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000 for each and every child restrain system product.
This is without prejudice to other penalties imposed in Republic Act 7394 (Consumer Act of the Philippines), the law stated. — BM, GMA News