The director of the Land Transportation Office - NCR has apologized for saying that families with bigger kids should just have bigger cars to comply with the new car seat law.
“I am sorry for the confusion I have caused with my remark, which was made in jest,” LTO-NCR director Clarence Guinto said in a public statement. “I realize now that it was inappropriate.”
Guinto was referring to what he said in an interview early today, Feb. 1, with DZMM Teledradyo.
“Siguro Mam Amy, laki-lakihan mo yung sasakyan mo,” Guinto said in reply to a question by host Amy Perez on how to go about if a 12-year-old child is too big to fit in a child seat.
After Perez said that the question was intended for many other families, Guinto said that “we will take note of that.”
Guinto’s reply, however, just betrayed his ignorance of the law as Republic Act No. 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act does lay out exceptions.
These exceptions, as also stated in the law’s implementing rules and regulations, cover children under 12 years of age who are 4 feet and 11 inches in height, who only need to be restrained by a seatbelt.
Children in a medical emergency as well as those who have a medical or mental disability are also exempted.
“To clarify, if the child is above 4’11, the child is exempted from using a child car seat under the law and may be secured using the regular seat belt,” Guinto belatedly said in his statement.
The law is set to take effect tomorrow, Feb. 2, but the LTO said they will not issue tickets for the next six months, focusing instead on educating the public.
RA 11229, which was signed into law in Feb. 2019, closely tracks the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which is the national public health institute in the United States.
The CDC recommends that children aged 12 and under are always buckled in the back set whether in a car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, “whichever is appropriate for their weight, height, and age.”
In the United States, the CDC said that 636 children, or those 12 years old and younger, died in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. Of this number, 33% were not buckled up.
In the Philippines, an average of 667 children, or those 14 and below, reportedly died year every year from 2006 to 2015 due to traffic accidents according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
In a dated 1987 study by the National Academy of Science and Technology, it was estimated that the median height for Filipino boys and girls aged 12 years old is around 140 centimeters or about 4 feet six inches.