House approves ‘Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act’ on final reading

HB 6938 to require public to use child safety seats on vehicles

To further promote road safety among children, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the House Bill 6938, which seeks to provide special protection of child passengers in motor vehicles, last Tuesday (Feb. 6, 2018).

With a vote of 225-0, the House approved the “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act,” stating that it is the policy of the State to ensure the safety of children while being transported in any form of motor vehicle.

The bill also declares that the State also recognizes the right of children to assistance, including proper care and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse and other conditions prejudicial to their development, including exposure to safety risks while aboard motor vehicles.

It also guarantees the safety and welfare of infants and children, prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries, to require, regulate, promote, and inform the public on the use of child restraint systems in motor vehicles.

Such requirements shall not apply to circumstances where the child restraint system or safety seat would put such child in greater danger such as: during medical emergencies; when the child transported has a medical or developmental condition; or other analogous circumstances prescribed under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).

The bill refers to a child restraint system as “a device capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position. It is so designed to diminish the risk of injury to the wearer, in the event of a collision or an abrupt deceleration of the vehicle by limiting the mobility of the child’s body.”

If the child is at least 150 cm or 59 inches in height or based on the standards on the height or size of the child as set forth by the United Nations, the child may use the regular seat belt instead of a child restraint system.

Children below 12 years old shall be allowed to sit in a front seat of a motor vehicle, unless the child is at least 150 cm or 59 inches in height and capable to properly fit in the regular seat belt in the front seat.

The HB 6938 also mandates the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to use as benchmark the standards set forth in UN Regulation, in the approval and disapproval of child restraint systems that will be sold, distributed, and used in the Philippines.

In addition, the DTI should be the governing body in conducting mandatory testing of child safety features of a motor vehicle, and distribute certificates if the child restraints were proven safe. This act also requires all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and sellers of child restraint system to secure a license from Bureau of Product Standards (BSP), a Philippine Standards mark license, and/or Import Clearance Certificate (ICC) license before selling out the products.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and DTI are mandated to formulate and implement a certification training program for product inspectors, law enforcers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers on the regulations as prescribed in the IRR, and the measure provides for varying penalties for drivers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and sellers who shall violate the proposed Act.

The DOTr, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the Department of Education (DepEd) and concerned private agencies and organizations shall undertake regular nationwide information, education and communication (IEC) campaign within six months from the passage of the Act.