Soon, children and infants will be more protected when riding vehicles.

After being approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives earlier this year, Senate Bill 1972, also called “An Act Providing for the Special Protection of Child Passengers in Motor Vehicles and Providing Appropriations Thereof” has also been approved by the bicameral conference committtee last November 26.

The Senate Committee on Public Service, chaired by Sen. Grace Poe, and House Committee on Transportation, chaired by Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, have agreed to adopt the major provisions in the Senate version. More so, no major disagreements on the provisions were pushed by both the Senate and Congress.

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Sen. Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito, principal author of Senate Bill 1972, says that it is about time laws are put into place that protect the lives of people, specifcally children.

Once enacted into law, drivers of private vehicles are mandated to secure a child aged 12 years old and below in a child restraint system when driving on a road, street or highway. More so, children are also prohibitted from sitting in the front seat unless he/she is at least 150cm tall (4 feet, 8 inches), allowing them to fit in the standard seat belt.

According to the bill, a 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' i.e. a child seat.

Aside from the child restraint system, drivers are also prohibitted from leaving children unattended inside the vehicle even if they are in a child seat. The bill cites the incident in which a 2-year old kid was left inside a parked vehicle for several hours which went viral on social media.

For the protection of children using public utility vehicles, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is mandated to adopt safety measures and issue regulations for the safe transportation of children.

Drivers found violating this law shall be fined Php 1,000 for the first offense, Php 2,000 for the second offense and Php 5,000 together with the suspension of the driver's license for one year for the third and succeeding offenses.