A measure aimed at protecting infants and young children from serious injuries and deaths from road accidents has been sent to Malacañang for the President's signature.
The Presidential Legislative Liaison Office transmitted to Malacanang the harmonized version of Senate Bill 1971 and House Bill 6938, or "An Act Providing for the Special Protection of Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles," last January 24.
Sen. JV Ejercito, principal author of the measure, said it's about time to implement laws that will protect the lives of the people, especially the children.
Ejercito, citing data from the World Health Organization, noted that 1.35 million people around the world die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 years, the study stressed.
In the Philippines, government data showed that the number of deaths due to traffic incidents has been increasing since 2006. Hundreds of the fatalities each year are children.
An average of 667 children - those 14 years old and below - died every year from 2006 to 2015, according to Philippine Statistics Authority, as it stressed that while seat belts can save lives, infants and children need a more specific type of car seats in case of a road accident.
Senate Bill 1971, once signed into law, mandates drivers 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, 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.