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Car seats required for children 12 years and below starting Feb. 2

Children aged 12 years and below will be prohibited from taking the front seats in private vehicles and instead be mandated to be seated in child restraint systems (CRS) or car seats starting Tuesday, February 02, 2021, as part of the full implementation of the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.

The law -- signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February last year -- mandates that children aged 12 and below use the CRS and are only allowed to take the front seat if they meet the 4'11' height requirement, on top of using the regular seat belt.

"Child restraints in cars are intended to keep a child firmly secured in their seats so that in case of sudden braking or collision, the child would not be fatally thrown away against the car interior or ejected from the vehicle," Robert Valera, deputy director of the Law Enforcement Service of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) said in a briefing hosted by Buckle Up Kids PH last week.

Valera noted, however, that while the law will take effect this week, the LTO will not apprehend violators for at least the next three months as the agency will focus on information dissemination on the new law.

"The enforcement is not only about apprehension. It also covers information dissemination as well as warning. Instead of issuing initially a TOP (temporary operator's permit) or a show cause order, we will be on the warning mode as well as information dissemination," he said.

Under the implementing rules and regulations of the law, drivers found in violation will be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P3,000 and a one-year suspension of the driver's license for the third and succeeding offenses.

Exempted however are those 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 similar circumstances.

Manufacturers, distributors, importers, retailers, and sellers who violate the law -- in terms of safety standards and the regulation and requirements -- will be fined from P50,000 to P100,000 for every CRS product sold without prejudice to other penalties. — DVM, GMA News