SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives, through viva voce voting, approved on Tuesday House Bill 6938 seeking to provide special protection of child passengers in motor vehicles.
The proposed “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act” declares it is the policy of the State to ensure the safety of children while being transported in any form of motor vehicle.
Moreover, the State recognizes the right of children to assistance, including proper care and special protection from all forms of neglect, abuse and other conditions prejudicial to their development, including exposure to safety risks while aboard motor vehicles, the bill states.
To guarantee the safety and welfare of infants and children and prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries, the bill provides there is a need to adequately, consistently and objectively require, regulate and promote, and inform the public on the use of child restraint systems in motor vehicles and provide access to safe, appropriate, quality and affordable child restraint system, in accordance with international standards by accepted by the United Nations.
The bill mandates the use of child restraint system in privately-owned motor vehicles. It shall be unlawful for the driver of a privately-owned motor vehicle not to secure at all times a child while being transported on any road, street or highway. The child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child’s size, height and weight.
Such requirements shall not apply to circumstances where the child restraint system would put such child in greater danger such as: during medical emergencies; when the child transported has a medical or developmental condition; or other analogous circumstances prescribed under the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR).
The bill refers to a child restraint system as “a device capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position. It is so designed to diminish the risk of injury to the weather, in the event of a collision or an abrupt deceleration of the vehicle by limiting the mobility of the child’s body.”
If the child is at least 150 centimeters or 59 inches in height or based on the standards on the height or size of the child as set forth in United Nations Regulation 44 and Regulation 129, including their evolving standards, the child may use the regular seat belt instead of a child restraint system.
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 bill mandates the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to use as benchmark the standards set forth in UN Regulation 44 and Regulation 129, including their evolving standards, in the approval and disapproval of child restraint systems that will be sold, distributed and used in the Philippines.
The DTI shall also conduct mandatory testing of all locally manufactured child restraints system and certify to the safety and appropriateness of imported child restraint systems. All manufacturers, importers, distributors and seller of child restraint systems are required to secure from the Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) a Philippine Standards (PS) mark license and/or Import Clearance Certificate (ICC) license prior to the marketing, sale and distribution of their products.
It shall be unlawful for any person, company, partnership, sole proprietorship, manufacturer, distributor, and/or importer to manufacture, use, sell, distribute, donate, lease, advertise, promote, or otherwise market the use of substandard or expired child restraint system.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and DTI are mandated to formulate and implement a certification training program for product inspectors, law enforcers, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers on the regulation, maintenance, use, maintenance and inspection of child restraint systems, as prescribed in the IRR.
The DOTr shall conduct a study and recommend to Congress the use of child restraint systems in public utility vehicles such as jeepneys; buses, including school buses; taxis; vans; coasters; accredited/affiliated service vehicles of transportation network companies; and all other motor vehicles used for public transport.
The bill imposes varying penalties for drivers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and sellers who shall violate the proposed Act.
The DOTr, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), the Department of Education (DepEd) and concerned private agencies and organizations shall undertake regular nationwide information, education and communication (IEC) campaign within six months from the passage of the Act.
Authors of the bill include Reps. Mariano Michael Velarde, Jr., Cesar Sarmiento, Edgar Mary Sarmiento, Florida Robes, Johnny Pimentel, Romeo Acop, Edgar Erice, Renato Unico, Jr, Henry Ong, Micaela Violago, Estrellita Suansing, Winston Castelo, Cristal Bagatsing, Alfred Vargas III, Carlo Lopez, Eric Olivarez, Gus Tambunting, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Reps. Horacio Suansing, Jr., Mark Aeron Sambar, Gavini Pancho, Strike Revilla, Jesulito Manalo, Luis Raymond Villafuerte, Jr., and Erico Aristotle Aumentado, among others. / RBB