Detained Senator Leila de Lima has proposed a measure requiring every private vehicle to install child car seat system to protect children from getting injured or killed from vehicular accidents.
She filed Senate Bill No. 1862 which amends Republic Act 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% and among small children by between 54% and 80%.
It also claimed that the use of child restraint system can change up to 80% 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%.
De Lima, a grandmother of two, noted that under RA 8750, drivers and passengers are required to use seat belts while children below six years old are prohibited from sitting in front seat of a vehicle.
However, 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.
“Infants 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,” De Lima 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.
SBN 1862 proposes for higher penalties on violators ranging from minimum fine of P100 to P1,000 for the first offense and to P500 to P2,000 for the succeeding violation.
“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.
De Lima was detained at the Phil. National Police Custodial Center in February 2017 on drug charges.