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Law passed ensuring child safety on the road

A newly enacted law requiring vehicle owners to install child restraint systems finally provides a long-overdue legal framework for youngsters who are considered the most vulnerable among road users, according to a road safety advocacy group.

Melisa Comafay, road safety project coordinator of pro bono legal group Ideals, said the passage of Republic Act 11229 was a step toward addressing child safety on the streets, an issue that was not sufficiently addressed by the Philippine Seatbelt Law.

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RA 11229, which President Duterte signed on Feb. 22, made it illegal for the driver of a covered vehicle not to use a child restraint system—infant seats or booster seats designed to reduce the risk of injury in case of an accident—while the engine is running.

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The child restraint system must be appropriate for the user’s age and weight. It must also bear the Philippine standard mark or drivers will face up to P5,000 in fines plus the suspension of their driving license.

“[Not requiring child restraint systems in vehicles] is the only risk factor among the five factors cited by the World Health Organization (WHO) that lacks a comprehensive legal framework in the Philippines,” Comafay noted.

In a statement, WHO lauded the passage of the law which it called “a significant step toward prioritizing the safety and welfare of infants and children on Philippine roads, and preventing traffic-related deaths and injuries.”

In the Philippines, more than 600 children die from road crashes each year, it observed, adding that if correctly installed and used, the restraint system could “reduce the likelihood of a fatal crash by approximately 70 percent among infants and between 54 and 80 percent among young children.”

Previously, the Philippine seatbelt law prohibited only vehicle owners from putting children below 6 years old in the front passenger seat.

“It’s best that as early as now, we educate ourselves on the importance of child restraint systems, and purchase the appropriate child safety seat for our children according to age, weight and height,” Comafay said.

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TAGS: Accidents, child restraint system, child safety, Comafay, duterte, IDEALS, Republic Act 11229, road safety, seat belts, WHO
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