By Hannah Torregoza
The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading the bill seeking to provide protection to infants and young children from deaths and serious injuries arising from road crashes and other traffic-related incidents.
Twenty senators voted “yes” to Senate Bill No. 1971, “An Act Providing for the Special Protection of Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles,” which is seen to make traveling for children safer once signed into law.
Its counterpart measure has been approved by the House of Representatives in February this year.
Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, principal author of the bill said the measure provides that “drivers of private vehicles are mandated to secure a child 12 years old and below in a child restraint system while transporting a child on a road, street or highway.”
“Child restraint system” refers to a device capable of accommodating a child occupant in a sitting or supine position designed to diminish the risk of injury in the event of a collision or of abrupt deceleration of the vehicle by limiting the mobility of the child’s body.
Under the measure, children are also prohibited from sitting at the front seat of the vehicles, unless the child is at least 150 centimeters or 56 inches in height and capable to properly fit in the regular seat belt in the front seat.
“The child restraint system shall be appropriate to the child’s age, height and weight and approved in accordance with safety standards for child restraint system,” Ejercito said.
The bill also prohibits drivers from leaving children unattended inside vehicles even if they are wearing child restraint systems.
It can be recalled that in July this year, a video of a two-year-old boy who was left unattended for several hours inside a vehicle parked in Metrowalk, a famous commercial hub in Pasig City, became viral in social media.
“This act should not be acceptable as this might endanger the health and life of the child,” said Ejercito, chair of the Senate Sub-Committee on Special Protection for Child Passengers under the committee on Public Services.
Likewise, the bill mandates the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to adopt safety measures and issue regulations for the safe and secure transportation of children.
Violators of the proposed law would be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P5,000 and suspension of the driver’s license for one year for the third and succeeding offenses.