A measure giving protection to infants and young children from deaths and serious injuries arising from road crashes and other traffic-related incidents breezed through the bicameral conference committee Monday, November 26, with no major disagreements on the provisions being pushed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Senate Committee on Public Services, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, and the House Committee on Transportation, chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, agreed to adopt major provisions in the Senate version in less than hour of discussions.
Sen. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, principal author of Senate Bill 1972, or "An Act Providing for the Special Protection of Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles and Providing Appropriations Thereof," said it's about time to implement and craft laws that will protect the lives of the people, especially the children.
Poe, Senate President Protempore Ralph Recto, Senators Joel Villanueva, Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Risa Hontiveros, Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara and Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay co-authored the measure.
The House of Representatives passed its counterpart measure, House Bill 6938, last February of this year Ejercito expects the harmonized version of the measure to be ratified before the 17thCongress adjourns sine die on June 8, 2019.
The measure provides that "drivers of private vehicles are mandated to secure a child 12 years old and below in a child restraint system while transporting a child on a road, street or highway."
"Child restraint system" refers to a device capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position designed to diminish the risk of injury in the event of a collision or of abrupt deceleration of the vehicle by limiting the mobility of the child's body.
These children are also prohibited from sitting at the front seat of the vehicles, unless the child is at least 150 centimeters or 56 inches in height and capable to properly fit in the regular seat belt in the front seat, the measure stated. "The child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child's age, height and weight and approved in accordance with safety standards for child restraint system," Ejercito said.
Even if they are wearing child restraint systems, drivers are prohibited from leaving the children unattended inside the vehicles, the bill stated.
It can be recalled that in July this year, a two-year-old boy was left unattended for several hours inside a vehicle parked in Metrowalk, a commercial hub in Pasig City. The video of the incident became viral in social media.
"This act should not be acceptable as this might endanger the health and life of the child," said Ejercito, chairman of the Subcommittee on Special Protection for Child Passengers under the Committee on Public Services.
For the protection of children using public utility vehicles, the Department of Transportation is mandated to adopt safety measures and issue regulations for the safe and secure transportation of children.
A driver found violating this law shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P5,000 and the suspension of the driver's license for one year for the third and succeeding offenses
Photo by Zero5/iStock/Smart Parenting website