What are the exemptions in the child seat law?

The whole child seat debacle has lit up the comments section lately. It didn't take long for the public to voice out their displeasure about the law even though it will be a while before its implementation. Browsing through comments posted on our Facebook page, a big chunk of them weren't exactly complimentary.

But is there a way not to get child seats for your car? Yes, there are several ways, but the exemptions are few and far between. For that, let's take a closer look at Republic Act 11229, Section 4.

There, it states, “It shall be unlawful for the driver of a covered vehicle not to properly secure at all times a child, in a child restraint system while the engine is running or transporting such child on any road, street or highway unless the child is at least one hundred fifty (150) centimeters or fifty-nine (59) inches in height and is properly secured using the regular seat belt.”. Take note of the height requirement. If your child (or children) exceeds the minimum of 4'11”, there is no need to get a child restraint system (CRS), regardless of age.

That said, if they're bringing friends along who are below the minimum height, they must be secured in a child seat. Also, children who are above 4'11 must wear a seat belt regardless of age, and those 12 years old and below are not allowed to sit at the front. While we're on the subject of age, adults are automatically exempt from the rule, even if they are under the aforementioned height. After all, it is called the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act.

Also exempt from the rule are teenagers. Those 13 years old and up don't need to be restrained in booster seats. But what if they're below the minimum height for children? According to the rule's definition of terms, they define children as anyone 12 years old and below. That means teens don't need to sit in a CRS regardless of height, and they're also allowed to sit at the front.

There are also exemptions in extraordinary cases. Per Section 4 of the Act, it states, "The requirements of this section shall not apply to circumstances where the child restraint system would put such child in greater danger, such as:

(1) During medical emergencies;

(2) When the child transported has a medical or developmental condition; or

(3) Other analogous circumstances prescribed under the implementing rules and regulations (IRR)."

At the moment, the LTO and DOTr want to delay the enforcement of the child seat law. They initially planned to roll out a nationwide information drive regarding the said law, targeting teachers/school officials, children, medical practitioners, and manufacturers/retailers/importers, among others.

However, the current health situation meant that it had to be put on hold. Another reason for its deferral is due to the LTO still in the process of finalizing enforcement protocols. This law requires special training as it involves children.

So before you head out and get a child seat for your kid, make sure to check their height so as to ensure if they do need a child seat or not.