12-year-old kids no longer allowed to take front seats of cars
Traffic officers can start in the first week of February apprehending drivers who allow children 12 years old and under to sit in the front seat or leave them unattended inside a private vehicle.
According to the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11229, or the Child Safety In Motor Vehicles Act, offenders will be fined from P1,000 to P5,000 and their driver’s licenses will be suspended for one year.
RA 11229 was signed into law in February 2019 and its implemention rules were approved and published two weeks ago.
Child car seats
The law will finally institutionalize a road safety legal framework for children, who are considered to be the most vulnerable road users. It requires that children must be secured in a car seat appropriate to their size, weight and height when they are being transported, or while the engine is running.
The installation of child car seats in vehicles will become a requirement next year to give ample time for vehicle owners to invest in safe, standard child restraint systems.
If used correctly, car seats can reduce the risk of death for children by 54 percent in an accident, according to the World Health Organization.
The rules were prepared by transport regulators, road safety advocates and the Department of Trade and Industry, which will set the acceptable standards for safe car seats.
For now, the universally accepted standards to be followed are the United Nations Regulations No. 44 and 129, which determine whether a child’s seat should face the rear or the front of the vehicle, depending on the age of the child.
The rules also provide a comprehensive framework for vehicle owners or parents to follow to correctly use child restraint systems.
The regulations list ways to check whether a child is properly and securely seated. These include ensuring that the child restraint system is properly anchored; the shoulder strap should cross the center of the child’s chest and not the neck; the harness and belt are firmly buckled and not twisted.
Children are exempted from using the car seat if they are at least 150 centimeters tall, during a medical emergency or if they have a special medical, mental or developmental condition or disability.
Parents or vehicle owners who already have child car seats are required to secure a clearance from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), which will determine if they remain acceptable for continued use.Accredit fitting stations
The rules also allow the LTO to establish and accredit fitting stations for car seats as well as train fitters for correct installation.
Any manufacturer or retailer found negligent in selling substandard car seats or had tampered or forged them would be fined between P50,000 and P100,000.
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