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DOTr mulls child safety seats in PUVs

Authorities eye feasibility of amending law to include public transport

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will be studying whether public utility vehicles (PUVs) like buses and jeepneys, as well as school services and ride-hailing cars, should also be required to use child safety seats.

On Thursday, the DOTr, along with legal groups ImagineLaw and Ideals, presented the initial draft of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 11229, or the newly enacted child safety seat law, set to be published next month.

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It is seen by road safety advocates as a huge leap in helping protect children, who are considered the most vulnerable road users by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lower risk of death

If used correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of death for children by 54 percent during an accident, said WHO.

The law, signed by President Duterte in Feb. 22, requires children to be secured in car seats appropriate for their size, weight and height during transport or even while the vehicle’s engine is running.

These car seats must comply with United Nations Regulations 44 and 129, and other acceptable standards to be determined by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

While it would lapse into effectivity next month, mandatory compliance and enforcement of the law would start in September 2020, said lawyer Justin Elizaga of the DOTr’s legal department.

“What we are aiming for, ultimately, is not just apprehension,” Elizaga said. “What we want is compliance.”

Right now, Section 4 of the law covers only private vehicles, including those subject to a long-term lease contract or rental cars required to secure a franchise from the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, said lawyer Evita Ricafort of ImagineLaw, one of the legal groups that helped formulate the IRR.

PUVs and ride-hailing cars are not yet required to follow the law, she said. But if the DOTr finds that car seats are not feasible for PUVs, it is required to submit to Congress “necessary legislative measures for the safe and secure transportation of children in such vehicles,” the IRR states.

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Ricafort said they would be working closely with DOTr, DTI and other agencies to ensure an IRR “that we [could] really enforce.”

“The state doesn’t want to burden you with the use of child safety seats,” she said. “It wants to protect the right to safety of children.”

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TAGS: child safety seats, Department of Transportation, Republic Act No. 11229, World Health Organization
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