Road safety in the Philippines has achieved notable strides through the years. Thanks to concerned lawmakers, we now have such laws as the Speed Limit Law on major thoroughfares, Motorcycle Helmet Law, Seatbelt Law, Anti-Drunk Driving Law, and the recently passed Anti-Distracted Driving Law.
While the aforementioned laws do protect people’s lives on the road in general, not all of them cover an equally important aspect of road safety – saving the lives of children ages 14 and below. Why? Because according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an average of 674 children died from car crashes in the Philippines between 2006 and 2014.
This is why a group of concerned individuals and road safety advocates recently held a symposium highlighting the importance of child safety. Dubbed as “Seats That Save Lives”, the said press conference was led by a panel consisting of Ms. Dinna Dayao (Freelance Journalist), Dr. Benjamin Lance (WHO Representative), Sen. JV Ejercito, Dr. Aldovich Rivera (Research Faculty Institute of Health Policy and Development Studies, University of the Philippines Manila), and Jason Salvador (Global Road Safety Partnership on Child Legislation, Ateneo School of Government).
One of the key things covered was the necessity to have a child restraint system or child seat installed in the car for minor passengers.
Indeed, child seats do help save lives of young individuals on the road. For example, rear-facing seats for infants 1-year-old and below help reduce the risk of fatalities by 70%. Additionally, forward-facing seats for kids 2 to 7 years old were proven to prevent fatalities in-car crashes by 80%. Another supporting fact is that booster seats for kids 8 to 12 years old were observed to reduce fatality risk by 54%.
However, installing restraint systems for minor passengers isn’t a popular habit for most motorists here in the Philippines. One of the reasons is that most would still prefer their child to be seated in the front seat with an adult passenger holding them for safety. Another reason is the non-affordability of good quality child seats, as well as the lack of a law mandating the installation of the safety device.
Fortunately, the forum also discussed the proposal from the House of Representatives and the Senate to create a child safety law through House Bill 5595 and Senate Bill 1447, respectively. To summarize, the said bills would mandate the use of child restraint systems in private motor vehicles. It will also prohibit children 12 years old and below from sitting in the front passenger seat, even if held by an adult. The reason for this is to prevent the child from getting hit by the deploying airbag in case of a collision.
If pushed through, the proposed law would impose hefty fines on offending motorists and manufacturers that produce substandard child seats. In terms of affordability, prices of child seats are projected to go down since there will now be a law that would help balance the supply and demand for the safety device.
Feature image courtesy of Steven Depolo Flickr account.
Video courtesy of Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).