(UPDATE, Feb. 3) The Department of Transportation has postponed the implementation of the new law in order to finalize its enforcement guideline.
Children 12 years old and below, or those below 4 feet 11 inches in height, will now be required to use child car seats under a new law effective Feb. 2, 2021.
Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) will be fully implementing the Republic Act 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, which prohibits children 12 years and below or those below 4'11" in height from taking the front seats in private vehicles. Instead, these kids are mandated to be seated in child restraint systems (CRS) or car seats that are cleared by the LTO.
The law, which was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last year, aims "to ensure the safety and welfare of child passengers, as well as prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries," wrote the Department of Transportation in a post.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations also stated that "The State recognizes the right of children to assiatance, proper care, and special protection from all forms of neglect, neglect, abuse, and other conditions prejudicial to their development, including exposure to safety risks while aboard motor vehicles."
During a press briefing hosted by Buckle Up Kids PH, Robert Valera, deputy director of the LTO Law Enforcement Service said, "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."
Those who are caught violating the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act 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. Those who are using substandard or expired child car seats or products that do not bear the ICC Sticker, PS Mark, or LTO clearance, will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 with a one-year driver’s license suspension for the third and succeeding offenses.
There are some exemptions though. If there is a medical emergency or the child has a medical or mental disability that using a car seat makes it hazardous, then they are free from using one.
Though the full implementation will start tomorrow, LTO will not yet issue traffic violation tickets for at least two to six months, as they will focus on disseminating the information to the public.
"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."
Check out the press briefing from Buckle Up Kids PH below.