We cannot stress this enough – the safety and responsibility of your children in a vehicle rests solely in your hands. We’ve seen toddlers being left unattended in double parked cars, free to roam around and touch buttons. We’ve also seen small children sitting on the laps of adults in the front seat, or free to move from the front to the back at highway speeds. You know what happens if you have to brake hard or a collision does occur? That’s right, not pretty.
Lately, there has been progress locally in the form of the Senate Bill 1971, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles act of 2017, and all that’s missing is the signature of the President to make it effective. When enacted, this law will cover three main things. The first is that children aged 12 and below will be strictly prohibited in the front seats of any vehicle, unless the child measures above 150 centimeters (4’6) in height. This is because children with this height do not properly fit into the regular seatbelt in the front seat. Second is that he use of child restraint systems, also known as child/baby car seats, will be required for parents who will travel with their young ones. Car seats come in varying types and can be secured using regular seatbelts, tether anchors, and ISOFIX attachment points. Lastly, children in vehicles cannot be left unattended for whatever reason.
This is a step in the right direction, but why wait for a law to take the safety and well-being of your child seriously? Apparently, the rest of the world is having similar issues with regulating children in vehicles. Believe it or not, the Philippines isn’t the only country without a national law in place. In fact, you’ll be surprised to find that some first world countries only have the bare minimum guidelines to make travelling with your small children as safe as possible.
According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report on road safety for 2018, 84 countries around the world have a national law in place regarding child restraint systems, and the same number prevent children below the age of 10 or 12, or with a height below 135 cm or 150 cm to sit in the front seats. Even less is the number of countries that have legislation that controls front seat use AND child seat guidelines that cover height, weight, and age; enough to meet the satisfactory criteria for the WHO. Once the bill is passed in our local senate, we will finally join the ranks of the 53 countries that achieve this satisfactory rating.
Of course, laws are nothing without enforcement, and part of the problem of adopting the practice of car seats and restraint systems is their high barrier for entry in the form of pricing and ambiguous standards for both selling and importing. Strict enforcement and a positive approach towards child safety in vehicles is something that should be prioritized not just in the Philippines, but around the globe. Think of a child seat as an investment that will not only keep your child safe and secure, but can also be reused by other children when you don’t need it anymore, furthering extending its value.
So if you’re looking at travelling to another country with your children and are renting a car to drive around in, cover all your bases and always take note of their laws and guidelines to keep your child safe and save yourself from a hefty fine.
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