Everything you need to know about the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act

To car owners with young kids, do you already own a child seat?
by Drei Laurel | Feb 11, 2020
PHOTO: Niky Tamayo

Have a car in your garage? Have a kid in your car? If your answer to both questions is yes, then we hope you own a proper child restraint system for your vehicle. It isn’t just for your kid’s sake, either—driving without it when you have a child passenger is against the law.

Not familiar with the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act? Well, we’re here to help. If this is the first time you’ve heard of Republic Act No. 11229, grab a pen and notebook and take down notes. Here’s our explainer:

Who is covered by this?

The Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act covers all private vehicles and all children under 12 years of age, although there are some exceptions which we’ll get to later.

Will any child seat do?

The answer is no. Under the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, a child restraint system in use must not be past the manufacturer’s specified expiration date, while products without a specified expiration date must meet product safety standards prescribed by the Bureau of Philippine Standards of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI-BPS).

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All child restraint devices must be in compliance with the United Nations Regulation No. 44 (‘Uniform provisions concerning the approval of restraining devices for child occupants of power-driven vehicles’), and the DTI-BPS is tasked with periodically updating local standards based on UN regulations concerning child restraint systems.

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What if I bought my child seat before this law was passed?

You need to have your product cleared at your nearest Land Transportation Office (LTO) branch. Upon inspection, it must not have a cracked or damaged shell or metal components, a frayed harness or tether, broken stitching, twisted or torn webbing, a malfunctioning quick-release buckle, missing parts, or other damage visible to the eye.

What if my kid doesn’t need a restraint system?

Let’s get into exceptions. If your child is under 12 years of age but is over 150cm tall (4ft 11 in), you’re fine as long as he or she is properly restrained via a seatbelt in the backseat.

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Children are also exempt from being secured in a restraint system if it is during a medical emergency, or if the child has a medical or mental disability that makes the use of such a system hazardous. In the event of the latter, the child’s condition must be certified by a licensed physician, and he or she should be provided a customized system that will fit his or her needs.

I don’t know how to install my child restraint system. What do I do?

The LTO has been tasked with establishing fitting stations and implementing a training program on the installation, use, and maintenance of child restraint systems. Also, all child restraint system manufacturers and retailers must provide customers with an instruction manual on the use and installation of such devices.

Do check out our previous story regarding the installation of child seats, too.

I was sold a shoddy child restraint product. What can I do?

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Complaints regarding a child restraint system’s quality can be reported to the Department of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Help Desk. Issues regarding products bought online can be reported to the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group or the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Anti-Cybercrime Division. To verify a manufacturer, importer, or seller, you must reach out to the Security and Exchange Commission’s Public Information and Assistance hotline.

So, it’s just child seats, then?

No. Children are not permitted to ride in the front seat of a vehicle with or without a restraint device, and must never be left unattended inside a motor vehicle.

What about public utility vehicles?

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has been tasked with studying the feasibility of using child restraint systems on PUVs such as buses, jeepneys, taxis, and even ride-hailing vehicles. If the agency finds that the use of such devices in PUVs isn’t feasible, it will recommend necessary legislative measures to keep children safe onboard PUVs.

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What is the penalty for disregarding this law?

The LTO is tasked with deputizing members of the PNP, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB), and local government units (LGU) to implement and enforce the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.

Drivers caught violating the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 with a one-year driver’s license suspension for the third and succeeding offenses.

Drivers using substandard or expired child restraint systems or products that do not bear the PS Mark, ICC Sticker, or LTO clearance, will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P3,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 with a one-year driver’s license suspension for the third and succeeding offenses.

You can check out the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act in its entirety, as well as the fines and penalties for manufacturers, importers, and retailers, in the post below. So, have you bought a proper child restraint system yet?

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PHOTO: Niky Tamayo
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