Editorial | Protecting child passengers

ON a dusty road, a motorcycle adroitly slipped through the long queue of vehicles slowing down on a junction, and was obviously on its way to an elementary school up ahead. The passenger was a young child of about six or seven, his puny arms clutching the side of the driver’s jacket. It was a sight that makes parents cringe, fearing for the child’s safety and cursing the driver’s irresponsible and risky behavior.

Another photo posted by online news agency Mindanews shows a driver with two woven baskets behind his motorcycle, the right basket contains a goat and on the left basket (the danger side) sits a young child.

Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. We see children in various risky situations –whether inside private vehicles or in public transportation.

Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved an overwhelming vote of 225-0, a bill which seeks to provide special protection of child passengers in motor vehicles. House Bill 6938 or the proposed “Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act” mandates the use of child restraint systems in privately owned motor vehicles.

The bill says it is unlawful for a driver not to secure a child 12 years old and below in a child restraint system appropriate to the child’s size, height, and weight while being transported on any road, street, or highway.

It also states that 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.

A driver who violates the proposed law will be punished with a fine of P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, P5,000 and a one-year suspension of the driver’s license for the third and succeeding offenses.

We may lag behind other countries in ensuring road safety for our children, but we are glad that this is now given the attention it deserves from our legislators. The ball is now in the court of our law enforcers.


Posted in Opinion