“NEW PHILIPPINES CHILD CAR SEAT LAW APPLIES TO 12 YRS OLD & YOUNGER”

HOWEVER, ONLY 15-65 YEAR OLDS ALLOWED TO GO OUT UNDER COVID-19 LOCKDOWNS

First of all, I was scratching my fat kano head while watching the news last night. Pia Hontiveros, CNN anchor, was delivering the latest newscast while comfortably sitting in front of a fireplace. (Fireplace in the Philippines, you might wonder. It was 19.9 degrees Celsius, 68 Fahrenheit, on Sunday, January 31, in Metro Manila. That’s 67.82 Fahrenheit. Baguio City also recorded a temperature on Sunday of 9.4 degrees Celsius, 50 degrees Fahrenheit.) Pia was reporting on a new child car seat law that goes into effect in the Philippines today, February 2, 2021. However, aside from the fireplace, what caught my attention was the fact that children 12 and under have to have a child car seat.

Moreover, the law was passed two years ago. Because of “Filipino Time,” the law is only now going into effect. Frankly, that didn’t surprise me.

Republic Act 11229 or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act

Section 4 states:

“It shall be unlawful for the driver of a covered vehicle not to properly secure at all times a child, in a child restraint system while the engine is running or transporting such child on any road, street or highway unless the child is at least one hundred fifty (150) centimeters or fifty-nine (59) inches in height and is properly secured using the regular seat belt.”

59 inches is around 4’9″.

LTO National Capital Region Chief Clarence Guinto said children taller than 4’11” might use seat belts instead of the mandated car seats. LTO is the Land Transportation Office of the Philippines.

Guinto was clarifying guidelines on the use of car seats for children.

Only passengers who are 13 years old and older can use the front passenger seat.

The law also punishes drivers who leave children in a car unaccompanied.

(Full disclosure: My late Father back in our small town in South Central Illinois would occasionally leave my two brothers and me in our vehicle unaccompanied. We all were Elementary School age at the time.

My Dad, during the summer, would roll down all the car windows for us before heading to a local tavern. It was a popular watering hole located on a corner on the town square. Our Father would have a pack of Winston’s rolled up in his short sleeve shirt.

He would quaff an adult beverage. Or two. Or three.

This was in the early Sixties.

We sat there for hours. I remember one time when one of Dad’s friends would stop by and give all of us a soda. We were very grateful for that. Mom was working at that time. Dad was on the local police force’s night shift.

Our “child restraint” was Dad threatening to use the belt on us if we didn’t stay in the car.

We were young, but not entirely stupid.)

Penalties for Violating the Law

Failure to comply with the law may result in the following:

  • A fine of 1,000 to 5,000 pesos (approximately 20-100 US dollars.)
  • The driver’s license shall be suspended for a period of one year for the third and succeeding offenses.

The fine in Illinois, my former home in the States, for failing to restrain a child is $75 for the first offense and $200 for the second offense.

Manufacturer, distributor, importer, retailer, and seller penalties:

  • A fine of at least 50,000 but not more than 100,000 for each product. That’s approximately 1,000 to 2,000 US dollars.
  • These penalties apply to those who would compromise the quality of the child restraint system.

Enforcement of New Law in 3-6 Months

However, the LTO will not begin apprehending and ticketing violators until three to six months from now. That’s according to a report from Top Gear.

“Enforcement is not only about apprehension—it also covers information dissemination as well as warnings,” said Roberto Valera. Valera is the LTO’s deputy director for law enforcement.

ONLY 15-65 YEAR OLDS ALLOWED TO GO OUT UNDER COVID-19 LOCKDOWNS

Moreover, in a report from the Inquirer.net, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. suggested the suspension of the child car seat law. The House Representative rightly pointed out that those children under 15 years old are not allowed to go out during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Garbin noted that President Duterte reversed a move allowing children aged 10 and above to go out in areas under modified general community quarantine.

The age range of people allowed going out remains 15 to 65.

“There is no necessity now to bring children outside of the residence using any motor vehicle. The right time to implement is when the entire country is already in [modified] general community quarantine and when the age restrictions include children,” Garbin said on Monday.

Garbin also said he has yet to see the recommendation of the DOTr, Dept. of Transportation, and the LTO on how the law would be implemented in public utility vehicles, jeepneys.

“Very often we see small children as passengers on motorcycles and without helmets or any safety gear,” he said.

That’s certainly very true in our island province of Guimaras.

Why 12-year-olds?

Frankly, I thought the new law stating 12-year-olds had to be in a car seat seemed too extreme. However, I ran across this information from BuckleUpIllinois.org.

Why Use a Booster Seat Instead of an Adult Safety Belt? In Illinois, by law children who have outgrown their child safety seat must be properly restrained in a booster seat until they are at least 8 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends booster seat use until the adult belt fits properly – which could be as old as 12 years for some children. 

Cute kid pictures courtesy of pixabay.com

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