It’s called a child seat, booster seat, or car seat for children, which is mandatory in other countries. It’s now mandatory in the Philippines as well. On 22 February 2019, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law Republic Act No. 11229, also known as the Child Safety in Motor Vehicle Act. For ease in understanding this law, let’s focus on four aspects: age of the child, height of the child, front or rear seat, and whether the engine is running.
Age of the child
A child, for purposes of R.A. 11229, refers to someone 12 years old and below. In other words, the law does not apply if all the persons inside the motor vehicle are above 12 years old (if so, there’s no need to read further).
Height of the child
A child (again, 12 years old and below) who is at least 150 centimeters (59 inches) in height may sit in the front or rear seat using the regular seat belt. In other words, for children 12 years and below, the height determines two things — where they can sit (front or rear of vehicle), and whether or not a child seat is required.
Front or rear seat
A child below the height requirement (at least 150 centimeters or 59 inches) must sit in the rear seat of a covered vehicle using the appropriate child restraint system (not the regular seat belt).
A child restraint system refers to a device capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position. It is designed to diminish the risk of injury to the wearer, in the event of a collision or of abrupt deceleration of the vehicle, by limiting the mobility of the child’s body. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is mandated to use standards based on current United Nations Regulations concerning Child Restraint Systems.
The child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child’s age, height and weight, and compliant with the approved standards. This will be covered in the implementing rule and regulations.
R.A. 11229 applies when a child is inside a motor vehicle with a running engine, or while such child is being transported on any road, street or highway.
What is a motor vehicle?
A motor vehicle refers to both private and public motor vehicles. The term does not include a tricycle and motorcycle.
A public motor vehicle refers to a public utility vehicle or vehicle for hire.
A private motor vehicle refers to:
1. Any motor vehicle owned by individuals and juridical persons for private use.
2. Any motor vehicle owned by the National Government or any of its agencies, instrumentalities or political subdivisions, including GOCCs or their subsidiaries for official use.
3. Any diplomatic vehicle.
Liability of the driver
A driver is the individual operating the motor vehicle.
A driver who violates the use of mandatory restraint system or use of seat belt for the child shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense and P2,000 for the second offense. For succeeding offenses, the driver shall be penalized with a P5,000 fine and one-year suspension of driver’s license.
A driver who allows the use of substandard and/or expired child restraint system or permits the use of child restraint system that does not bear the PS mark or the ICC sticker and certificate shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense and P3,000 for the second offense. For succeeding offenses, the driver shall be penalized with a P5,000 fine and one-year suspension of driver’s license.
When is compliance mandatory?
Compliance is mandatory one (1) year after the effectivity of the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR). The Department of Transportation, in consultation with other agencies and stakeholders, is required to issue the IRR within six (6) months from the effectivity of the law. R.A. 11229 takes effect fifteen days after publication in the Official Gazette or in two national newspapers of general circulation.