Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has proposed a measure requiring every private vehicle to install child car seat system designed to reduce the number of children getting injured or killed from vehicular accidents in the country.
De Lima filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 1862 which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 8750, also known as “Seat Belts Use Act of 1999,” to address a legislative gap in the law that is only designed to protect adult passengers.
“Aside from the seat belt requirement, motorists of privately-owned vehicles are now required to install and to use child restraint system for infant and young children passengers,” she said.
Based on a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report, an average of 667 children – ages 14 years old and below – died in road accidents from 2006 to 2015.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), the use of child restraint systems can reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70 percent and among small children by between 54 percent and 80 percent.
It also claimed that the use of child restraint system can change up to 80 percent on the risk of injury for children aged 0-4 in a rear facing restraint, while children aged 0-4 with only a seat belt can change the risk of injury only by 32 percent.
De Lima, a grandmother of two, pointed out that under the present law, RA 8750, drivers and passengers of moving vehicles are required to use seat belts while children below six years old are prohibited from sitting in front seat of a vehicle.
However, she continued, the law only protects adults since regular seatbelts are not designed to protect infants and young children from injuries or death due to sudden stop or vehicular accidents.
“Infant and children need a more specific type of design to protect them during a collision because a seat belt will not prevent trajectory or injuries,” she said.
“Notwithstanding the child being secured in a child restraint system, at no instance shall he or she be left unaccompanied by an adult in a motor vehicle,” she added.
Under her proposed measure, only children from six to 12 years old are allowed to sit in front of vehicles, except when the child is at least 150 centimeters in height and capable to properly fit in the regular seat belt in the front seat.
SB 1862 proposes for higher penalties on violators ranging from minimum fine of PhP100 to PhP1, 000 for the first offense to PhP500 to PhP2, 000.
“This is in response to news reports that according to the Land Transportation Office, the most frequently committed traffic violation in the years 2013, 2014 and 2016 is non-compliance with the Seat Belts Use Law,” De Lima said.
Despite being detained based on bogus drug charges for almost 500 days, De Lima has continued to file meaningful legislative measures for the benefit of the Filipino people. SB No. 1862 is one of the 90 bills and 106 resolutions filed by the neophyte senator since being elected two years ago.