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De Lima files bill requiring more safety gear for children in cars

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By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Leila de Lima has proposed a law requiring every private vehicle to install child car seat system.

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senator Leila de Lima (REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco / MANILA BULLETIN)

De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1862 which seeks to amend Republic Act No. 8750 or the so-called “Seat Belts Use Act of 1999”. Her proposal seeks to address a legislative gap that only protects adult passengers and not children and infants.

The senator said passage of the measure into law will help reduce the number of children getting injured or killed from vehicular accidents in the country.

“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,” de Lima said.

A grandmother of two, de Lima 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.

Citing a study from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the lawmaker said an average of 667 children – ages 14 years old and below – died in road accidents from 2006 to 2015.

She said the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that 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.

WHO 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.

“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,” the detained senator 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,” added de Lima.

Under the bill, 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.

Senate Bill No. 1862 also proposes for higher penalties on violators ranging from minimum fine of P100 to P1, 000 for the first offense to P500 to P2, 000.

“This is in response to news reports that according to the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the most frequently committed traffic violation in the years 2013, 2014 and 2016 is non-compliance with the Seat Belts Use Law,” the lawmaker stressed.

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