House approves strict new seat belt laws for children in cars

seat belt

The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bill which seeks to provide special protection of passengers in motor vehicles, including mandatory seat belts.

Voting 225-0 today (Tuesday, February 6), lawmakers passed House Bill 6938 or the proposed “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act”, which mandates the use of restraint systems in privately-owned motor vehicles.

Under the bill, it shall be unlawful for a driver not to secure a child – 12 years old and below – in a restraint system appropriate to the child’s size, height and weight while being transported on any road, street, or highway.

The bill exempts circumstances where the restraint system would put such child in a greater danger such as during medical emergencies, when the child transported has a medical or developmental condition, or other analogous circumstances.

The bill states that no child below 12 years old shall be allowed to sit in a front seat of a motor vehicle, unless the child is at least 150 centimeters or 59 inches in height and capable to properly fit in the regular seat belt in the front seat.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is mandated to use as benchmark the international standards in UN Regulation 44 and Regulation 129 in approving child restraint systems that will be distributed in the Philippines.

DTI shall also be responsible in conducting mandatory testing of all locally-manufactured child restraints systems and certify to the and appropriateness of imported child restraint system.

It shall be unlawful for any person, manufacturer, distributor, retailer and sellers to manufacture, use, and market the use of substandard or expired child restraint system.

The bill imposes varying penalties for drivers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and sellers who shall violate the proposed act.

A driver who violates the proposed law will be punished with a fine of 1,000 pesos for the first offence, 2,000 for the second and 5,000 along with a one-year suspension of the driver’s licence for the third and succeeding offenses.

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