Seat belts are not enough for infants and children

Pending bills in the Senate and House of Representative seek to mandate the use of a child car seat for children aged 0 to 12 years old

Rappler.com

2:10:14pm August 17, 2017

3:20:43pm August 17, 2017

MANILA, Philippines—Seat belts can save lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), properly worn and fitted seat belts can reduce the probability of being killed by 40%-50% for drivers and front seat passengers.

However, as much as seat belts are essential to a road user's safety, it does not guarantee protection for everyone who uses it, especially children and infants. (READ: Seats that save kids’ lives: Why are they rarely used in the Philippines? )

In the Philippines alone, an average of more than 600 children died every year from 2006 to 2014.

Child car seat system

Infants and children need a more specific type of system to protect them during a collision because using the seat belt alone might not prevent trajectory or injuries but even cause abdominal injuries.

This is why a child car seat system is the more appropriate tool to protect infants and children during a collision or a sudden stop.

A child car seat system, built for children from 0 to 12 years of age, is designed to reduce the risk of injury in the event of a collision by limiting the mobility of the child's body.

It helps by restraining movements away from the vehicle's structure and distributing the forces of a crash over the stronger parts of the body, with minimum damage to soft tissue. The seats are specially built according to a child’s size and weight.

It is also effective in reducing injuries that can occur during non-crash events, such as a sudden stop, a swerving evasive maneuver or opening of the door during vehicle movement.

According to WHO, the child restraint system can change up to 80% on the risk of injury for children aged 0-4 in a rear facing restraint. Children aged 0-4 with only a seat belt can change the risk of injury only by 32%.

Pending bills

A bill requiring the use of a child car seat system is currently pending in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The bill mandates the use of a child car seat for infants and children aging 0 to 12 inside a private vehicle.

It also prohibits infants and children from sitting in the front seat of any vehicle. Fines will be charged to the driver who fails to ensure that child passengers use child car seats.

If this bill turns into a law, every parent would be required to acquire one for their children. During a press conference on child car seats last August 16, Dr. Adovich Rivera from the University of the Philippines presented the average cost of buying one. 

Rivera's study shows an average price of a brand new child car seat in the country costs P10,040.68 while a second-hand one costs P4,250.

While some people might hesitate on the additional spending, proponents and advocates remind that no price can equate to a child’s life that is at stake every day. Additionally, spending for additional safety measures will be nothing compared to the cost of injuries of a crash.

The bill is currently waiting for the schedule of its second reading in the House of Representative and is scheduled to undergo a Committee Hearing in the Senate.

Advocates of this bill like Jayson Salvador from the Ateneo School of Government are hopeful that this bill will be passed.

“The more we delay the passage of such laws, the more we put the children in danger. I think everybody realizes that we need this law now,” said Salvador.—Rappler.com